Regina Hall, Lauren Ash Celebrate "Powerful Voices" at the Step Up Inspiration Awards
The event raised more than $520,000 to help pay for programs and mentorships that benefit teenage girls.
Step Up's 16th annual Inspiration Awards luncheon on Friday at the Beverly Wilshire brought actresses, models and musicians together to both celebrate the foundation's graduating class and recognize partners Benefit Cosmetics and She Is the Music for empowering the program's girls.
"If we can work with teens at the stage that they’re at now and keep celebrating what’s unique about them and what’s special about them and tell them what their strengths are, they can grow from here," Step Up Foundation Jenni Luke CEO told The Hollywood Reporter. "I just get really inspired by them."
Luke said her personal inspirations include her mom and sister, who helped her learn that confidence is "really knowing who you are before you walk in the room." It's this idea of confidence that Luke said her organization has implemented in the teenage girls that benefit from its mentorship and empowerment programs.
Superstore's Lauren Ash and Regina Hall attended the ceremony to present the Inspiration Awards corporate honoree and the Inspiration awards honoree, respectively.
Ash told THR that she thinks the #MeToo and Time's Up movements have been necessary to making strides taken toward empowerment and confidence among women. However, she also said that empowerment has taken steps backward with the abortion ban in states across the country, including Georgia and Alabama.
"I think more than anything it is an exciting time, but we can't keep complacent," the actress said. "It's a time where when women get together and unite, we can see how much can get done and we can see how powerful voices can be when they get together."
Also in attendance at the ceremony was Grand Hotel actress Justina Adorno, who told THR that she credited the series' producer Eva Longoria for creating a confident and "positive environment" to work in. "I think because she's so genuine and honest, it allows everyone around her to feel the same way and just to be authentic and themselves, which creates a much more positive environment," she said.
The luncheon also included a fundraiser aimed to support Step Up's mentorship and empowering programs, which have allowed the foundation's girls to go on college tours and experience different career fields.
Erica Ash, who led the fundraiser, jokingly asked attendees to splurge on the foundation as she did on the floral print dress she wore onstage. Step Up raised more than $520,000 to support its programming.
The luncheon ended with a musical number from singer Lauren Jauregui, who also accepted the Inspiration Awards honoree award on behalf of She Is the Music. Jauregui, 22, told THR that indoctrinating young women with confidence and validating their abilities allows them to make a change and do something good for the world.
"No matter age, gender, identity, you are valid, you have a voice and you have something to offer this world," she said.