Oscar-winning Actress Halle Berry and Van Hunt attend the LACHSA   (Courtesy photo)

They act.

They sing. They dance.

They play all types of music –  jazz, classical, pop, and hip hop.

This isn’t a new musical on Broadway.  This is the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) Foundation’s Sixth Annual Future Artists Gala fundraiser where some of the country’s most talented students provided world-class entertainment recently at the  Avalon Hollywood.

LACHSA alum Corbin Bleu (High School Musical and the Tony-nominated Kiss Me Kate on Broadway) served as the host. EMMY® and four-time GRAMMY®-nominated LACHSA alum Josh Groban was honored with the LACHSA Luminary Award and Warner Bros. Television Group Chairwoman and CEO, Channing Dungey, received the LACHSA Arts Advocate Award.

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Renowned actor and LACHSA Foundation Board Member Melina Kanakaredes was this event producer. The goal of the program is to raise funds that support arts education. The state only funds academic curriculum.

“Tonight is an extremely important night,’ said Kanakaredes. “We do this gala once a year, and I am so honored to be a part of it.”

Former LACHSA student Corbin Bleu (High School Musical and Kiss Me Kate on Broadway) hosted the Future Artists Gala. (Courtesy photo)

There was such a palpable sense of energy in the room due to all the undeniable talent present including actor and singer Bleu who kept the high-octane program moving by joining some musical numbers with his alumni.

“I’ve had such a blast tonight and right now we’re in the middle of our live auction, trying to raise money for this incredible school that is completely free for students to go to,” said Bleu in one animated breathtaking answer.

“ I would not be in the position I’m in today and have the career that I’ve had if it were not for the amazing training and foundation I received at LACHSA,” he added.

Bleu graduated from LACHSA in 2006.  He said he never felt unseen, and students of color should apply. “Go and audition! Go and audition! What do you have to lose?” he said. “There is an incredible resource here… You have no idea what could be waiting for you. If you have the passion, just go and audition! It’s completely free!”

LACHSA is ranked the #1 Arts High School in the country by Niche.com. Although there are a lot of children of famous stars enrolled, LACHSA Foundation Executive Director Jeffrey Dollinger said it is the premiere public arts high school  because of its commitment to diversity.

Since our founding, we focused heavily on making sure any talented student has the opportunity to come here,” said Dollinger. “We have a number of Black alumni you can see on television and in movies because every kid has a chance to shine at LACHSA,” he said adding that they have relied on artistic allies such as Debbie Allen’s Dance school to recruit.

Warner Bros. Television Group Chairman and CEO Channing Dungey is the 2023 recipient of the Arts Advocate Award at the Future Artists Gala held by the LACHSA Foundation. (Courtesy photo)

Dungey’s acceptance of  the Arts Advocate Award was one of the highlights of the evening. Dungey’s is a highly esteemed TV industry leader who became the first Black chairperson at a major studio. She is also known for being the ABC executive who cancelled the “Roseanne” reboot in 2018 when  comedienne posted a racist tweet about Obama’s adviser Valerie Jarret.  A stunning shero, her insights on diversity and advocacy could be a master class.

“To receive the Arts Advocate Award from LACHSA is a huge honor because I think of myself as the Chairman of Warner Bros. Television Group as an advocate for great storytelling,” she said.

“…You have the people who are creating the art, and you have the people who are championing them and advocating for them; that’s how I’ve always seen my role in this business.  It feels nice. I’m very humbled.”

Actress and former LACHSA instructor Penny Johnson Jerald (The Orville) and former student and actor Leonard Howze (The Upshaws, Two of the Barbershop trilogy)   (Courtesy photo)

She said Warner Bros. is very committed to diversity and inclusion.

“I want to tell stories that resonate with audiences. That means telling authentic stories from authentic points of view,” she said.  “That means it’s got to be about more than casting a show in a diverse and inclusive way. You need people who are in front and behind the camera, telling the story from their perspective.”

She said that Warner Bros. has an “incredible roster of talent” and looks forward to  a new show that will be premiering on NBC in the fall called “Found.”

“It’s written by Nkechi Okoro Carroll who is also the showrunner behind All American and All American Homecoming. … Nkechi was very focused on how many missing people in the United States stories are not covered or don’t make the news because they are people of color.”

Founded in 1985, the tuition-free public school is run by Los Angeles County office of Education on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles.  To learn more about the school and how to apply, visit www.lachsa.net.