Hosted by R&B singer Tank and Bel Air actress and vocalist Coco Jones, the sixth annual Culture Creators Brunch (taking place Thursday, June 23) was a celebratory occasion, centering the achievements of Black leaders in the arts and media spaces. This year’s iteration of the event was in partnership with Netflix’s Strong Black Lead and sponsored by Lexus, Morgan Stanley, Ciroc and Pivotal Ventures.
An ode to the first days of summer, guests wowed in vibrant ensembles as they mingled and embraced throughout the lobby of The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. The daytime ceremony began with a gripping performance by Amber Riley of her emotion-filled ballad “A Moment,” followed by a prayer offered by Rev. Howard Lindsey. Hosts Tank and Jones then took the stage, cracking jokes as the “Please Don’t Go” singer tripped over his teleprompter script, something that became an ongoing joke throughout honorees reading their acceptance speeches.
Among honorees was Insecure actor and activist Kendrick Sampson, presented the social impact award by Riley. “Oppressive people and systems target our imagination because they know how powerful it is,” Sampson said. “That’s why there is no revolution without imagination. We have a duty to unleash environments that encourage the imagination that inspires us to build a better world.”
The Houston native went on to dedicate his award to three Black women who aided and nurtured him on his journey, including producer Marilyn Beaubien, who was in the audience.
Other prominent guests in the audience included MRC Live & Alternative executive vice president of creative Stephen Hill, executive vp, urban music & marketing for Warner Records Chris Atlas, Schure Media founder and Beyonce publicist Yvette Noel-Schure, Def Jam CEO Tunji Balogun and executive vice president Latrice Burnette, among others.
The prestigious icon award went to Antonio “L.A.” Reid and was presented by one of his early LaFace signees, Usher. Reid signed Usher when the now superstar was only 14 years old, making the exchange a full-circle moment.
“L.A. Reid has been a key figure in shaping the sound and experience of popular music for over 25 years as a record producer, a songwriter, a label executive,” said Usher. “I’ve chased this man his entire [career], even when he left LaFace Records because I really felt as though a family was being broken apart and I was the baby of that bunch. He never gave up on me, so I never gave up on him.”
Beyond Usher, Reid is also responsible for launching the careers of some of the most culture-defining acts, including OutKast, Rihanna, Mariah Carey and Ciara. In a video dedication, stars like Carey, DJ Khaled, The Dream, Toni Braxton and 21 Savage offered warm words praising Reid for his impact on their journeys.
“I’m nervous, I’m thankful, I wrote a speech and I’ve already f—ed that up,” Reid said, immediately met with laughter from the audience. “I used to come in this room for the Clive Davis Grammy Party and I wanted to be validated by Quincy Jones and Clive Davis and Berry Gordy, but I’m so much happier being in the room beside you guys. That was a celebration of the past and you are a celebration of the future.”
Other honorees included co-president of Roc Nation Shari Bryant, entrepreneur Kenny Burns and actress, comedian and writer Robin Thede.