Monique Lhuillier, Tyrese Gibson Highlight PSLA Winter Gala
The star-studded fundraiser — which was attended by Tobey Maguire and model Angela Lindvall — was hosted by Philanthropic Society of Los Angeles to support Watts-based Children's Institute, Inc.
The unseasonably warm weather in Los Angeles last Saturday night was just another reason for a star-studded group of philanthropists, actors, artists and designers to descend upon the home of American investor Alec Gores for the Winter Gala, the event hosted by Philanthropic Society of Los Angeles (PSLA) and its founder and gala co-chair Rochelle Gores Fredston in support of Watts-based Children’s Institute, Inc (CII).
Honoring Sutton and Christian Stracke with the Philanthropic Visionary award and Mark Bradford with the Artistic Visionary award, the evening raised over $1 million for CIIs' new Frank Gehry-designed Watts campus, which will become the hub of the organization’s efforts in serving the children and families in the area with treatment, education and basic necessities for ending abuse and violence in the community.
After a soulful performance by violinist Lee England Jr. (his rendition of Drake’s "Hotline Bling" was a revelation to the crowd once they figured out the hit song was being played with a more classical vibe), Tyrese Gibson took to the stage to deliver a moving speech about his upbringing in Watts to an audience that included Monique Lhuillier (the night’s fashion partner), Tobey Maguire, Angela Lindvall, Crystal Lourd, Gelila Puck, Julia Sorkin and Gehry.
"My heart is so moved by what you all are doing in my neighborhood. How can you expect someone who has witnessed a murder on their way to school to think about science or math?" asked the singer and Fast and Furious franchise star. "With over $6 billion in box-office receipts and a No. 1 song for 16 weeks on Billboard, I represent the possibility of what you can do if you decide to tap into what I call escapism, and you are all creating an opportunity for the kids in Watts to do that and to see what’s possible and dream beyond their reality.”
TYRESE TALKS: The performer giving a speech at the Winter Gala. (Photo: Getty Images)
Bradford, who grew up less than 10 miles northwest of Watts in neighboring Leimert Park, expressed a similar sentiment, saying, "I feel like artists do stand on the side of society and kind of question and poke holes at it. And when you’re struggling in the shadows, that’s when you need the most help, and that’s what I think CII is doing."
Along with CII and her group of 75 members at PSLA, Gores Fredston is determined to start changing the cycle of abuse and neglect described by Gibson. She is set to bring the services of PSLA to a new city each year, recently opening in New York in 2015 and next year in Detroit, not far from where she grew up.
"I want to change foster care and I want to change the cycle," said Gores Fredston, specifically describing some of the services in which PSLA partakes to benefit CII. "One of the things we hand out at our [annual] backpack drive is a new outfit. Stats say that children are 20 percent more likely to stay in school because they have a new outfit, and confidence to stay in school can change the cycle." Her background in clothing and fashion (Gores Fredston was a buyer for contemporary boutique Scoop and had her own retail space on Melrose Avenue called Arcade for years) is also reflected in the fashion partners she collaborates with for each PSLA fundraising gala. Lhuillier was this year’s partnering designer and had her evening gowns on models who mingled among the guests.
The night was a convergence of the art, fashion and philanthropic worlds in Los Angeles to cast light onto a neighborhood only several miles to the southeast of the gated Beverly Park enclave where the event took place. Bradford summed up the need for organizations such as PSLA and CII best by saying, "As long as things stay in the shadow the abuse can happen, but when we shine a light on it, we’re all responsible. Where there’s light, there’s hope."