The Point Foundation L.A. Honors Wanda Sykes, Wilson Cruz, and Jill Soloway
By: Audrey Rock
Beverly Hills, California (The Hollywood Times) 10/10/2017 “Oh, really, a household name?” she asked, taken aback. “Wow! Like, Tide, I guess. You know. Wanda Sykes, Tide, and Corn Flakes. That’s pretty awesome.” Wanda Sykes’ response to being informed by THT that she has achieved the status of household name.
The Point Foundation held its fall fundraising Gala at the Beverly Hilton Saturday night with a dual purpose–to raise funds for LGBTQ scholarships, and to honor Wanda Sykes, Wilson Cruz, and Jill Soloway for their contributions to the LGBTQ community.
It was a grand and somehow still pleasantly relaxing affair, with comedian Michelle Collins hosting, and presenter Kathryn Hahn and recipient Wanda Sykes interjecting continued levity throughout the evening.
On the red carpet, five time Olympic medalist and 2016 Point honoree Greg Louganis had words for young LGBTQ students just beginning their futures. “Especially given this administration, it’s just so challenging, and we’re going to have so much damage control.” he told THT. “Just hang in there, be strong. There are days when I see the news, and I just want to bury my head in my pillow and hide. We’ve got to all come together and support each other.”
Honorary Board Member Judith Light of Transparent showed up in a starkly regal Narciso Rodriguez dress and nearly stole the entire carpet.
Jill Soloway and Kathryn Hahn posed for photos, hand-in-hand. Onstage, Hahn would later introduce the director as ‘Jill mother f—ing Soloway,’ and admit the two actually met at the Silver Lake Farmer’s Market before working together on “Afternoon Delight” and “Transparent.”
Singer Adam Lambert told reporters that The Point Foundation has “been on the radar” as an organization to support. “It’s my honor to be here,” he said before going into the ballroom for the ceremony.
Inside, a formal dinner was served at tables purchased by patrons supporting The Point Foundation. Point scholars themselves were periodically featured as well, or had opportunities to speak or present alongside their Point Mentors. Collins was an outstanding, whip-smart, and energetic host, keeping the audience entertained and alert throughout the event.
The first award, the Point Courage Award, was given to Wilson Cruz. He was unable to attend due to work obligations with “Star Trek Discovery.” Via video, Cruz, a longtime LGBTQ activist, commented on the honor, and his slight discomfort with the term “courage.” Because, he said, “I have done none of this alone. I’ve had mentors, and guides, I’ve had teachers who encouraged me because they saw in me a modicum of talent.” He said the most courageous thing he’d ever done was simply ask for help; something he needed, given that he was the first openly gay teenager on network television as Ricky Vasquez in 1994’s “My So-Called Life”. Cruz also paid tribute to Sykes and Solloway, who he stressed he was honored to be recognized alongside.
An entertaining auction was held, headed by the fantastically, devastatingly effective auctioneer Gabriel Mulholland of Christie’s, (backed by relentlessly funny Collins), who managed to get 100,000 from one extremely generous guest in one electric round. A trip to Aspen, a Hilton Hotel Travel Package, and a VIP “Will and Grace” on-set experience were also auctioned off; an intense bidding war for the Hilton Travel Package between a 16-year-old and another guest finally ended at $26,000.
Kathryn Hahn gave the second honor, the Point Impact Award, to her longtime friend and director Jill Soloway, creator of Amazon’s “Transparent.” “This heartachingly real series and consciousness-shifter has recieved 2 Golden Globes, 21 Emmy Nominations, and 8 Emmy Awards including 2 for Jill’s directing, and it’s not enough in my humble opinion,” said Hahn.
The two danced briefly onstage before Soloway accepted her award, adding to the humor of the night, and stressing the importance of self-care. “Self-care, which I say is just a couple of words for what straight white men have been doing for decades,” she quipped to laughter and applause. “We have to call it self-care, they just call it Monday. But for queer people, it really does mean that it’s okay to spend quite a few hours relaxing, chilling, caring for each other. Loving each other.” Soloway directed the attention to Point scholars, who receive leadership training and mentors along with scholarships, and commented on the changes she hopes to see in the world.
“That’s what I hope the most, that we can change the narrative of the world with this idea of love, and this room is filled with people who are changing the narrative.”
Judith Light gave a speech remembering Herb Hamsher, Honorary Board Member and Point Mentor, who died last October. She described him as “a man of great clarity and vision and purpose.” He was convinced, she told guests, that through these scholars, “a new generation of leaders would be born. And that they would create positive change in the world.”
Comedian Anthony Anderson of “Black-ish” was given the duty of presenting the final honor to Wanda Sykes; the Point Legend Award. “I’m honored just to be here,” said Sykes. “The scholars, and the mentors, you’re the heroes. You’re the ones who are doing all the work. We’re here to say ‘thank you’ for what you’re doing.” Sykes said everybody had been asking if she would be on a new season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and the answer is no. She jokingly commented “we’ll see how that works out for them.” Ever the comedian, Sykes jabbed United Talent for only taking out a one-page ad in the program congratulating both herself and Jill Soloway on their awards.
Adam Lambert finished out the evening with a celebratory three-song set including his smash hit “What do You Want From Me,” “What’s Up,” and, calling himself a “Queen”, he led into a swaggering and exceptionally theatrical rendition of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.”
Dessert was served, gift bags were handed out; and by the end of the gala, over $450,000 was raised toward the college educations of LGBTQ students of merit. That in itself felt like the perfect closing number.