Hollywood Reporter, NBC's Jennifer Salke Honored at 2014 Big Brothers Big Sisters Gala

Associated Press
Jennifer Salke, left, and Sherry Lansing

The inspirational evening celebrated youth mentorship, including THR’s partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters through its Women in Entertainment program

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles honored The Hollywood Reporter, NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke and Ahmanson Foundation president William H. Ahmanson at its annual "Big Bash" gala at the Beverly Hilton on Friday night.

THR was presented with the organization's Trailblazer Award for its commitment to empowering youth. Janice Min, co-president and chief creative officer of Guggenheim Media's Entertainment Group, accepted the award alongside Lynne Segall, executive vp and group publisher of The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, and Stephen Galloway, THR executive editor, features. Anne Sweeney presented the award to the trio together with Min and Segall’s former mentees from THR’s mentorship program.

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“It’s great to have the work of the women who have participated in the Women in Entertainment mentorship program to be recognized in this way, and I feel that’s what’s represented by The Hollywood Reporter getting the Trailblazer Award tonight,” Min said. “It’s the involvement of so many amazing women in Hollywood who have devoted so much time year after year to helping girls and developing lifelong relationships.”

THR has been an instrumental pioneer in bridging the gap between the entertainment industry and youth in Los Angeles through its annual mentorship program, which pairs high-achieving teenage girls from some of L.A.’s toughest high schools with leading women in entertainment. Founded by Galloway in 2009, the program has increased from 12 mentees in 2010 to a confirmed 20 for 2015 and strives to build confidence in female youth.

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“What’s wonderful about this program is we started so small, but really with Janice’s support, it’s grown so much bigger than it was. Now we’re giving scholarships, and when Loyola Marymount University came in and said they were going to give two girls a full-ride scholarship worth half a million dollars, to see how it’s changed the girls’ lives is extraordinary,” Galloway said.

Fellow entertainment leader Ahmanson received the Walt Disney Man of the Year Award, and Salke was awarded the Sherry Lansing Award, both recognized for serving as inspirational and positive role models to youth. Salke partnered with THR and BBBSLA and witnessed her mentee receive a full-ride scholarship to Loyola Marymount University at THR’s 2013 Women in Entertainment breakfast.

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“I am humbled to receive an award named after somebody who is so accomplished, generous and just a wonderful person. … I look at Sherry [Lansing] and I feel she’s someone to look at to follow in their footsteps. So Sherry, thank you for everything that you do,” Salke said, adding: “I’m grateful to Janice, Stephen and The Hollywood Reporter for this incredible program and everyone at Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

From left: Janice Min, Stephen Galloway, Lynne Segall and Tiffany Siart, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles,

Galloway said he is equally grateful to Salke for her dedication to the mentorship program: “Jennifer Salke is one of the most extraordinary mentors. I’ve seen her e-mails at six o’clock in the morning, at midnight, back and forth with her mentee, now at LMU, to make sure her roommate situation is OK. She’s running a network, and she’s still taking care of this girl. It’s extraordinary. That’s more important than anything.”

Loyola Marymount University’s Stephen Ujlaki, dean of the School of Film and Television, attended the Rising Stars gala and said he was moved by the partnership’s positive effect of mentoring. “I cried because this is so meaningful. What Stephen is doing and The Hollywood Reporter and what this is all about, words can’t describe the impact that it has on some of these young girls and also the young boys that were here tonight. It’s hard not to react emotionally, and I am very honored to be a part of this.”

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Emmy winner Sean Hayes hosted the event, which welcomed the likes of Lansing, Dana Walden, Bob Greenblatt, Roy P. Disney, Megan Colligan, Katherine Heigl, Alfre Woodard and Doris Roberts. Heigl was inspired during the comical speech of a BBBSLA high school student without a mentor — the teen hopes to work for the CIA, speaks three languages and is learning Arabic and Chinese — to stand and raise her hand in offer and walked on stage to introduce herself to the mentee. Attendees were able to partake in both a silent and live auction to benefit BBBSLA and enjoyed live entertainment from an a cappella high school troupe.

The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. To find out more, visit www.BBBSLA.org.