The Carter (Jay Z, Beyoncé & Blue Ivy) family, Johnson (Magic & Cookie) family, the (Samuel & LaTanya) Jacksons and the Lawson (Richard, Tina Knowles & Bianca) clan came together Saturday night for a family affair. The 2nd annual Wearable Art Gala in downtown Los Angeles gave everyone a chance to get fresh, clean and dressed to impress in support of the North Hollywood-based WACO (Wear Art Can Occur) Theater Center. WACO houses Tina’s Angels, Richard’s Warriors, mentoring programs for teenage boys and girls, and its Mobile Theater. “We’re here to celebrate young people,” says Terry McMillan, “And what Beyoncé and her Momma and her step father are trying to do for young people as far as literacy, education and how to protect them.”
WACO became official, opening its doors in April by adopting the Kipp Academy of LA, offering a full year-long mentorship to a group of young people; operating Saturday sessions, acting classes, field trips and self empowerment training.
“Like my mother always said, ‘you can be on the right track but still get ran over,’ so it’s important to have people who can tell you when you’re being distracted and keep you focused and that’s what Richard’s Warriors and Tina’s Angels are doing,” believes attendee, Glen Turman. “Keeping these young people focused and on track.”
Hosted by Philanthropists, Richard Lawson and wife, Tina Knowles Lawson, the Wearable Art Gala self-expressive red carpet, auction and award ceremony simply showcased their love for their family. Richard and Tina with their close-knit group of friends give and give in a big way.
Glynn Turman, his wife Joann with daughter, Richard Lawson’s daughter, Bianca Lawson (Queen Sugar) Magic and Cookie Johnson, Samuel L. and LaTanya Jackson, authors Micheal Eric Dyson and Terry McMillan, Rodney and Holly Robinson-Peete, Representative Maxine Waters, Philantropist Felicia Horowitz, Khephra Burns and wife Susan Taylor and even Tyler Perry were among the attendees to the red carpeted event where the more elaborate and artistic, the better.
Some adorned the themed Black Panther, Wakandan inspired African-garb like Robi Reed who graced the carpet in a full length mudd cloth dress conceived by Costume Designer Ruth Carter. Susan Taylor wore a Queen’s crown on the aim of her husband, who wore a warriors red-laced cape. Others set their own style like Cookie Johnson who wore a leather-like, cat suit with added leopard print with puffed shoulders. Costumed in a seamless taupe fitted gown with structured feathers attached to her right arm, Tina Knowles Lawson designed allowed her imagination to fly free.
“Rarely do you see people dress with this much imagination. Because this is about young people; for young people to see adults use their imagination. It helps them to us their imagination and not be so stifled by peer pressure and by other peoples opinions,” voiced Richard Lawson. “Look around you, the people that are dressed boldly don’t really care about what other people think. This is an expression of who they are. And that’s what we’re about. Do you!”
After the lively red carpet closed, the live auction began with Star Jones leading the bidding. With all benefits going towards the WACO Theater Center, an acrylic painting by Sidney Poitier was sold to writer, director and producer Tyler Perry, afterwhich, a piece of artwork composed of law and medical books by Samuel Levi Jones sold to Blue Ivy with the help of her parents. A glamorous Lorraine Schwartz pair of panther earrings sold to Beyoncé.
Soon after the auction, both Beyoncé and Gloria Carter (Jay Z’s mother) were honored with humanitarian awards. Opening the ceremony was the Former first lady Michelle Obama’s emotional recorded taped message recognizing her love for Beyoncé and her giving spirit. “Because millions of girls around the world love you and admire you — including my daughters — it means even more that they see you standing up for others,” says Michelle Obama, “I’m so honored and proud of everything that you have achieved and everything that you have contributed to our country and our world.”
Dedicating her award to her mother, Beyoncé graced the stage dressed in an all golden ensemble after being greeted by one of her longtime fans, 17-year old Hannah Brammer, who has formed a bond with the international superstar.
“There’s something that feels very off about receiving this award from my mother. She raised me to believe that giving was not an option, but a privilege and a responsibility,” voiced Beyoncé. “I never thought people should receive awards like this because in my opinion, the giving is the reward and that’s enough..”
Also honored was Jay-Z’s mom, Gloria Carter, who was given the “Everyday People” Award because of her mentoring to Brooklyn kids through the Shawn Carter Foundation. Jay Z, dressed in a black fitted suit and grown out afro and told the story of being raised by his ‘ma,’ who taught him that the sky is the limit.
“Even though we are each uniquely individuals, we need each other to be successful. Not one of us has become successful without the help of someone else,” says Gloria Carter. “By being a part of this event, you now become a part of changing the life of a young person — by helping them move forward. Remember, you’re greatness isn’t supposed to stay with just you, it’s supposed to be shared. It will make a positive difference in everybody’s life.”
(photos courtesy of Kristina Dixon)