LIVING OUR TRUTH!
“POSE” ACTRESS AND TRANSGENDER RIGHTS ADVOCATE ANGELICA ROSS AMONG THE HONOREES AT THE SIXTH ANNUAL TRUTH AWARDS
LOS ANGELES –Better Brothers Los Angeles (BBLA) in association with award-winning actress/activist Sheryl Lee Ralph and her non-profit organization, The DIVA Foundation, are excited to announce that critically-acclaimed actress and transgender advocate Angelica Ross is among this year’s impressive list of award-winning honorees for the sixth annual Truth Awards.
The Truth Awards will be held on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at the Taglyan Cultural Complex, located at 1201 Vine Street in Los Angeles. The private and ticketed festivities will kick off at 6 p.m. with red carpet arrivals and a VIP reception. One of the most successful dance club artists in the history of US Hot Dance/Club Play Charts, CeCe Peniston will serve as the evening’s musical guest. She scored five major hit number one hits within a three-year span, including her signature dance hit, “Finally.”
The black-tie affair will honor trailblazing LGBTQ+ African-Americans whose personal and professional accomplishments have positively impacted the perception and image of the Black LGBTQ+ community. Also, BBLA will dole out scholarships to LGBTQ+ youth, pursuing vocational training and higher education. The Truth Awards embody the belief that members of the Black LGBTQ+ community and its allies who embrace and live their truth should be celebrated and honored.
Best known for her beloved breakthrough role of Candy Ferocity, co-founder of the House of Ferocity on the popular FX show, “Pose,” Angelica Ross will be feted with the Arts & Culture Award. A trendsetter and a trailblazer, she is the face of the new Louis Vuitton ad campaign. Plus, Ross is the first female transgender actress to land two series regular roles on television – that is, FX’s “Pose” and the current season of “American Horror Story: 1984,” both shows, helmed by the prolific creator/writer/producer Ryan Murphy.
Since studying theater at Florida Atlantic University, Ross has been featured in film, television, and live theatre. In addition to “Pose” and “American Horror Story,” her tv and film credits include the Emmy-winning series, “Her Story,” “Transparent,” and the short film, “Missed Connections.”
Her starring role in the Emmy-winning short form series “Her Story,” received Special Recognition at the GLAAD Media Awards, and her segment on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” won a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Talk Show Episode. Ross also works behind the camera. She executive produced and starred in the short film “Missed Connections,” which went on to be an official selection at Outfest, the La Femme International Film Festival and the Baltimore International Black Film Festival in 2017. Ross will continue to combine her passion for acting and her skills as a producer in her newest endeavor as executive producer for the “King Ester,” a short-form web series with filmmakers Dui Jarrod and Caralene Robinson.
Ross is also president of Miss Ross, Inc. and the founder of TransTech Social Enterprises, a program that helps people lift themselves out of poverty through technical training, digital work creating a social impact and bringing economic empowerment to marginalized communities.
From the boardroom to tv and films sets to the Obama White House, Ross is a leading figure of success and strength in the movement for trans and racial equality. Named the “1st Food Soldier of the Year” in 2015 by social/political commentator Melissa Harris Perry, and one of the Top10 LGBT+ Executives by Financial Times, Ross is dedicated to empowering trans and gender nonconforming people through TransTech.
In season 2 of “Pose,” Ross’ character dies, shedding a light on the violent plight of trans women, especially women of color. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HNC), 2019 saw at least 26 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. And the murder rate of transgender women continues to escalate.
Alongside Ross, the Truth Awards will honor celebrity stylist and interior designer power couple Jason Bolden and Adair Curtis, stars of Netflix’s “Styling Hollywood,” and owners of JSN Studio with a Business Leadership Award; producer/director Cheryl Dunye of OWN’s “Queen Sugar” with a Media & Arts Award; CNN political commentator and New York Times best-selling author Keith Boykin with the Advocate Award; Dr. Shaun Harper, director of USC Race & Equity Center, with the Excellence in Education Award, and finally, Jeffrey Wallace, president and CEO of LeadersUp with the Passing the Torch Award.
The DIVA Foundation and its founder Sheryl Lee Ralph are especially pleased to continue their partnership with Better Brothers Los Angeles (BBLA) on this effort. Both organizations believe a healthy Black community – one where individuals are allowed to live their truth, free of shame and stigma, and are recognized as equal and rightful members of the community – is a critical piece in the fight to also end HIV/AIDS. This year’s honorees were picked from various fields, including entertainment, fashion, beauty, business, finance and media.
“Times are certainly changing!” said Ralph. “In this current political environment, it’s important that we continue to support our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ+ community, and make it possible for them to live out loud and openly for the world to see.” She added, “Our acceptance and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community will encourage, inspire and motivate others to live their truth, unapologetically.”
Past honorees include Emmy-winning actress Loretta Devine, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning director/producer Anthony Hemingway; Emmy-winning culture expert Karamo Brown of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” award-winning actor Rockmond Dunbar, the first female NBA referee Violet Palmer, celebrated make up artist Sam Fine, author/writer James Earl Hardy, transgender model Tracey “Africa” Norman, transgender reality star and activist Chandi Moore, Grammy-nominated producer/singer/songwriter B. Slade, advertising executive Aaron Walton of Walton Isaacson (WI), and activist and night club owner Jewel Thais-Williams – just to name a few.
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Ticket prices begin at $175. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/6th-annual-truth-awards-tickets-79446122491
The Truth Awards will benefit the DIVA Foundation and its partnership with BBLA, which has initiated several initiatives aimed at affirming and strengthening the African American LGBTQ+ community educationally, financially, physically and socially. For more information about the organization and its scholarship program, visit www.BetterBrothersLA.com
For more information about the Truth Awards and its honorees, visit www.BetterBrothersLA.com/truthawards
2020 TRUTH AWARDS HONOREES | at a glance
· ANGELICA ROSS – Arts & Culture Award – best known for her beloved breakthrough role of Candy Ferocity, co-founder of the House of Ferocity on the popular FX show, “Pose.” She’s made history as the first female transgender actress to land series regular on two shows, -- that is, “Pose” and the current season of “American Horror Story: 1984,” both shows, helmed by the prolific creator/writer/producer Ryan Murphy. Ross is also the president of Miss Ross, Inc. and founder of TransTech Social Enterprises, an incubator for the LGBTQ+ community that provides education, support and jobs for trans people facing high levels of discrimination. . In addition to “Pose” and “American Horror Story,” her tv and film credits include the Emmy-winning series, “Her Story,” “Transparent,” and the short film, “Missed Connections.” Her starring role in the Emmy-winning short form series “Her Story,” received Special Recognition at the GLAAD Media Awards, and her segment on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” won a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Talk Show Episode. In season 2 of “Pose,” Ross’ character dies, shedding light on the violent plight of trans women, especially women of color.
· JASON BOLDEN AND ADAIR CURTIS – Business Leadership Award – celebrity stylist and interior designer power couple who stars in Netflix’s “Styling Hollywood.” Bolden and Curtis are owners of JSN Studio, a multi-disciplinary design firm. Whether interiors or fashion statements, this duo designs interiors, products and fashion moments, honoring the past, present and future with the simple purpose of helping their clientele look good AND live well! Last year, Bolden was named one of the 25 most powerful stylists by the Hollywood Reporter. Under the JSN Studio, the studio is composed of creatives from various backgrounds, working on a plethora of projects. Collectively, their client list reads like a Who’s Who in Hollywood, including Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Serena Williams, Wiz Khalifa, Sanaa Latham, Dule’ Hill as well as directors Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler – just to name a few. On their show, “Styling Hollywood,” viewers get a peek at how the couple balances business and marriage.
· CHERYL DUNYE -- Media & Arts Award – a world renowned African American director, writer, and actress. She first emerged as part of the “Queer New Wave” of young filmmakers in the early 1990s. Her first feature film, “The Watermelon Woman,” won the Teddy Award for Best Feature at the 1996 Berlin International Film Festival. The film, now considered a classic, was restored and re-released widely in 2016 for its 20th anniversary, and resides in the permanent cinema collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Her second feature, HBO's “Stranger Inside,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002 and was nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Director. In recent years, Dunye has entered a new wave in her career, working as a director for episodic television – first joining director Ava DuVernay and media powerhouse Oprah Winfrey for two episodes on Season 2 of OWN’s “Queen Sugar.” Other episodic directing credits include “Claws,” “Dear White People,” “David Makes Man,” “Lovecraft County” and “All Rise” – ust to name a few. In 2016, Dunye was named a recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in the field of filmmaking. In 2019, she launched her Oakland-based production company called JINGLETOWN FILMS, which is actively developing two episodic series — “The Gilda Stories,” an adaptation of the beloved 1991 queer vampire novel by Jewell Gomez and “Adventures in the 419,” based on Nigerian scammers.
· KEITH BOYKIN -- Advocate Award -- a CNN political commentator, a New York Times best-selling author, and a former White House aide to President Bill Clinton. Boykin has taught at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York and at American University in Washington, D.C. He is a co-founder and first board president of the National Black Justice Coalition. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, Boykin is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author of four books, and he is currently finishing his fifth book, titled “Race Against Time: The Politics of a Darkening America.” Mixing the worlds of politics and entertainment, Boykin appeared as a co-host of the BET Networks talk show “My Two Cents;” starred on the Showtime reality television series “American Candidate;” and served as an associate producer of the film “Dirty Laundry.” Plus, he’s appeared on numerous tv shows, including BET’s “Being Mary Jane.”
· DR. SHAUN HARPER -- Excellence in Education Award -- director of University of Southern California (USC) Race & Equity Center. Dr. Harper is the leading voice on race in the field of education. He was a tenured Ivy League professor prior to joining the USC faculty in 2017. The research center he founded at the University of Pennsylvania focused on racial equity in K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. The USC Race and Equity Center, as it is now known, has served more than 150 educational institutions in Los Angeles (including LAUSD), New York City, and elsewhere around the world. In addition to being the center’s executive director, Dr. Harper is a tenured professor in the USC Rossier School of Education and Marshall School of Business. He has published 12 books and more than 100 other academic publications; plus, procured more than $15 million to fund his transformational work; and been recognized in Education Week as one of the ten most influential professors in the field of education. Dr. Harper is president-elect of the American Educational Research Association, the largest and most prestigious organization in his field. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and several thousand other news outlets have quoted Dr. Harper and featured his research. He has also interviewed on CNN, ESPN, and NPR; testified to the U.S. House of Representatives; and served as the only professor on President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper national advisory council. He is a 22-year member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
· JEFFREY WALLACE -- Passing the Torch Award – president and CEO of LeadersUp, a nonprofit that bridges the gap between the untapped potential of young people and the business challenge of finding and keeping the best talent. With Wallace, LeadersUp has established best practices by facilitating employer-led solutions that are demand-driven and human-centered to tackle high youth unemployment in Chicago, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area. He gets in front of the issues that fuel educational and economic inequities and unites people around shared goals to achieve disruptive and transformative change. A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, were he studied music and earned a bachelor’s in education, Wallace was the first undergraduate student conductor in UCLA’s music department. He later earned an master’s degree in education from UCLA and a master’s degree in organizational development from the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, he is a fellow of the Presidio Institute and a Metropolitan Non-Resident Fellow of the Brookings Institution. In 2019, he received the Dr. Winston C. Doby Community Coalition Award from the Los Angeles Urban League. In 2018, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Alpha Nu Omega Chapter, recognized him with the Excellence in Community Advocacy Award, and he was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People.
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ABOUT THE DIVA FOUNDATION
The DIVA Foundation -- founded in 1990 by Tony-nominated actress and HIV/AIDS advocate Sheryl Lee Ralph -- is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, created as a living memorial to the many friends she lost to HIV/AIDS as an original cast member of the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls,” and because of her concern for the threat HIV/AIDS posed to women and children. Over the years, the DIVA Foundation has worked to break the silence and erase the stigma still connected to HIV/AIDS and encourage people to get tested in order to know their HIV status.
ABOUT BETTER BROTHERS LOS ANGELES (BBLA)
Better Brothers Los Angeles (BBLA) was created to provide spaces for members of the Black LGBTQ+ community to network, socialize and be BETTER – at life, love and community. Developing a sense of community has been a challenge for some within our community, given the cultural and religious opposition to our orientation and gender identity. As those challenges have receded in mainstream society, they still present significant difficulties and sometimes constrain a healthy sense of well-being. Since our inception, BBLA has sponsored cultural, informational, recreational, and social/networking events. We continue to sponsor and create opportunities that increase community confidence and pride. Visit www.BetterBrothersLA.com
Wyllisa Bennett, publicist du jour/wrb public relations Wyllisa@aol.com | 310.266.9704
James Ward III, publicist/JWardPr | JWardPR@gmail.com | 213.239.4800
PICTURED BELOW (l-r) Transgender actress Angelica Ross; celebrity stylist and interior designer power couple Jason Bolden and Adair Curtis; producer/director Cheryl Dunye; CNN political commentator and New York Times best-selling author Keith Boykin; Dr. Shaun Harper, director of USC Race & Equity Center; and Jeffrey Wallace, president and CEO of LeadersUp