L.A. Focus’ First Ladies High Tea held Saturday, September 13, 2014 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills was a tremendous success. Over 1,000 attendees celebrated as Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning actress Cicely Tyson received the Legacy Award for her lifetime achievements as both an actress and a cultural icon.

(l-r) Founder Lisa Collins of First Ladies High Tea, First Lady Isabella Drake; Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church, Icon Cicley Tyson; Tony & Emmy winning actress, First Lady Myesha Chaney starring in VH1’s “Preachers of L.A.” of Antioch Church of Long Beach and First Lady Debra Williams; McCoy Memorial Baptist Church

Tyson’s stirring acceptance speech included the decree that, despite receiving a lifetime achievement award, she’s “just getting started.” She ended with a passionate recitation of excerpts from the Langston Hughes-penned poem Mother to Son, quoting, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”

Rising star Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle, Undercovers) enchanted the audience by confiding that she’s “never been given an award before” as she humbly accepeted her Spirit Award in the spirit of the character she portrayed “Dido Elizabeth Belle.”

Honoree Gugu Mbatha-Raw and FAME Program Coordinator B. Symone Leak

Bold and the Beautiful star Alley Mills, recipient of the Shining Star Award and veteran music executive Vicki Mack Lataillade, who received the Focus Award, rounded out the day’s celebrity honorees.  First ladies who were honored for their activism and charitable contributions include: Myesha Chaney; Antioch Church of Long Beach, Isabelle Drake, Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church and Debra Williams; McCoy Memorial Baptist Church.

The First Ladies High Tea is an annual afternoon tea and red carpet affair for the Who’s Who of women in the church and black community, featuring celebrity guests, community leaders and honorees.  In the decade since its inception, the tea has served to inspire women, both young and old, to spearhead a movement of service to God and in the communities in which they live.  Past honorees include former California First Lady Maria Shriver, former LA County Supervisor Yvonne Burke, renown vocalist Nancy Wilson, gospel recording duo Mary Mary, TV One founder Cathy Hughes, actor/activist Hill Harper and The Honorable Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California, to name a few.

Grammy winning gospel recording artist and pastor Smokie Norful and Grammy-nominated artist Tata Vega – best known as the singing voice of the character “Suge Avery” in the film The Color Purple – were the event’s featured performers.

The event also included check presentations to three high school essay contest winners as well as a brief video and motivational speeches from a sex trade survivor and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urged attendees to join the fight to end the scourge of human trafficking in Los Angeles.

This year’s event was co-hosted by Ambassador of Gospel Dr. Bobby Jones, Jr; BET’s “Bobby Jones Gospel” and Dr. Beverly “Bam” Crawford, pastor of Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church. Sponsors included Wells Fargo, Walmart, Vision to Learn and many others.

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