Hollywood’s hottest up-and-coming executives and stars gathered Wednesday for The Hollywood Reporter's annual Next Gen party at Poppy in Los Angeles. Talent honorees who made an appearance at the bash, which celebrated this year's class of the town's fastest-rising stars and also welcomed past Next Gen-ers, included Yara Shahidi (Black-ish), Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Naomi Scott (Aladdin) and 2016 list-maker Zoey Deutch.
The evening, sponsored by American Airlines and Tiffany at H.Wood Group's new nightclub, featured tray-passed hors d'oeuvres as the honorees partied the night away, with several guests hitting the dance floor to a live DJ near the end of the night. “This is an annual tradition of 24 years, and one of my favorites,” said The Hollywood Reporter’s editorial director Matthew Belloni. “There’s a lot of bad news in the world, but I hope everyone has a great time and celebrates the Next Gen class of 2017."
The party capped off a busy day for honorees who spent their mornings scrolling through a flood of congratulations from family, friends and colleagues. "Everyone was so nice. They all knew I was nervous about the picture because I had a dream two nights before that the photographer did Warhol colors to my face and photoshopped sunglasses onto me but everyone else was normal," laughed Netflix comedy executive Brittney Segal. "So everyone was just like, 'Ok good, there are no sunglasses!"
Josh Goldenberg, a manager at Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment, loved hearing from former bosses in particular “because it’s a way to celebrate that they were all part of my career and getting to this place." And manager Sarah Weichel appreciated well-wishes from previous honorees. “They welcomed me into the family,” she said. But UTA's Lucinda Moorhead kept the fact that she made the list a secret until the morning of publication. "They were very excited and slightly disappointed I didn’t give anyone a heads up," she said of her friends and family, noting that they only found out when her wife posted about it on Instagram.
Paramount Network's Brad Gardner said that the response from his family was, "We still don't understand what you do," followed by several, "We're so proud of you," texts. But the TV exec was most surprised by the number of people who reached out whom he didn't know. "I just got 50 requests [on Facebook] to be friends with people I don’t know," he said, joking: "I mean, you’re not my friend. I’m not going to accept you!"
Gardner wasn't the only honoree who who saw people coming out of the woodwork to show their support. "There were definitely people from high school that I hadn’t heard from for a long time that messaged me — and people I didn’t know from LinkedIn," says Segal. But when it comes to surprising reach-outs, soon-to-be Star Wars breakout Tran's story takes the cake. "My favorite was probably every ex-boyfriend I’ve ever had," said the actress, wearing a Valentino dress. "One of my ex-boyfriends cheated on me and the girl he cheated on me with reached out to me, too!"
The conversation invariably turned to the sexual harassment scandals that have rocked the industry (and beyond) in recent weeks, including explosive accusations against Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, James Toback, Mark Halperin, Brett Ratner, Roy Price and other high-powered figures. “Right now, we’re at the tipping point in terms of Hollywood becoming a safer place, and I’m hoping my generation pushes that forward," said Shahidi, who will next star in Black-ish spinoff College-ish for ABC Family. Added Power Rangers star Scott of the wave of change, "I hope it just opens up the conversation and makes people think twice. I hope that culture is coming to an end."