The 13th annual McDonald’s® 365Black® Awards are set to bring every day heroes and celebrities from across the country to the New Orleans Theater during ESSENCE Festival® weekend. Exceptional leaders who make positive contributions to the African-American community will be recognized.
This year’s McDonald’s 365Black Awards will be hosted by actress/singer Amber Riley and actor Lance Gross. The show will also feature an all-star line-up of musical performances from the likes of Chrisette Michele, Anthony Hamilton, Kelly Price, Eric Benet and more.
Toni Braxton’s distinctive sultry vocal blend of R&B, pop, jazz and gospel became an instantaneous international sensation when she came forth with her first solo recording in 1992. Today, with over 60 million albums sold worldwide and six GRAMMY Awards, Toni Braxton is recognized as one of the most outstanding voices of this generation. The TV reality show star balances the demands of her career with the high priorities of family, health and public service as she raises her two sons. In addition to being a spokesperson for Autism Speaks, Braxton is also active in the fight against Lupus.
Charles “Peanut” Tillman is a 13-year professional football veteran and a decorated philanthropist. Tillman has been recognized around the league and country for his extensive work in the community. He was named the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year (2013), a Salute to Service honoree (2012) and more. Founded in 2005 by Charles and Jackie Tillman, The Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation is dedicated to providing opportunities and resources to children and families in need. Since its inception, The Foundation has impacted the lives of more than 1 million children in the Chicago-area through four core programs: Charles’ Locker, Field of Dreams, TendHer Heart and the Tiana Fund.
Wendy Raquel Robinson is an award-winning actress, producer, director and host. Her groundbreaking role on “The Game” earned her a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination. Robinson’s artistic background in acting, dancing, directing, writing, producing and choreographing displays her passion as she strives for excellence in her career as an artist/scholar. Robinson has received many accolades for her work in the community. When not working on set, Robinson focuses her attention on her passion and purpose — working with youth and the performing arts at her school, Amazing Grace Conservatory.
Lonnie Bunch III is a historian, author, curator, educator and founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. In this position he is working to set the museum’s mission, coordinate its fundraising and membership campaigns, developing its collections, establishing cultural partnerships and overseeing the design and construction of the museum’s building. Rooted in his belief that the museum exists now, although the building is not in place, he is designing a high-profile program of traveling exhibitions and public events ranging from panel discussions and seminars to oral history and collecting workshops.
Larry Tripplett has been selected for the 2016 365Black McDonald’s Owner/Operator Award. Tripplett plans to never retire. In addition to running eight restaurants, Tripplett is a licensed real estate broker and investor. He has been active in the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association (NBMOA) for more than 20 years. He plans to continue to do what he loves, operating his businesses and supporting non-profit activities that promote the general betterment of the community and the education of youth.
Natural Hair mag’s entertainment team is excited about being at the award show and bringing live interviews directly from the Gold Carpet. Our media correspondent, Anashay ‘6ft4Goddess will keep you abreast of everything exciting going on during the Essence Festival. Check out the event’s Community Choice Youth Award (CCYA) recipients:
Lauren Seroyer is a 16-year-old high school student committed to being the change she wants like to see in her community. After interacting with a fellow student who confided in her that he did not have enough food at home, the honor roll student immediately knew that she had to do something to help. As a result, she developed the Community Assistance & Resource Effort (CARE) Closet program which provides students with completely confidential on-site access to a school-based food pantry. After the successful implementation of the program at her school, she competed, as the only teen participant, in a United Way shark-tank style competition and won $25,000 that allowed her to place CARE Closets in high schools throughout Gwinnett County, GA, the largest county in the state.
Donovan Smith is a 13 year old social-entrepreneur from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who has worked selflessly for the last two years to help those effected by homelessness, as he and his mother once were. Taking it upon himself to raise money to donate back to the organization that helped his family, Smith decided to make his efforts more specialized. This year, he is taking on his biggest undertaking yet by sponsoring St. Martins Shower Room, where he makes and donates up to 1,000 soaps monthly. His mission has compelled many across the country to donate soaps to the shelter and has inspired several celebrities and others to follow and support him. Smith’s motto is “Do what you can” because he surely believes we all can do something to help others.
To find out about other Essence Festival happenings here.