VARIETY – As Hollywood prepares to celebrate its biggest night in film, some of the industry’s biggest names in black entertainment — including Idris Elba, Michael Ealy, Boris Kodjoe, Anthony Hemingway, Stephen Hill, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Evan Ross, Leon Bridges and Carl Weathers — packed Mr. C Beverly Hills hotel on Friday to kick off the fourth annual Icon Mann event.
Actors, journalists and Hollywood executives lined the 12th floor Starlight Ballroom — talking, laughing and exchanging handshakes as music played in the background.
The event, which culminates in an exclusive Power 50 dinner, celebrates black men in entertainment and provides a community that fosters support.
“It’s about creating the space for black men to have great fellowship of like-minded consciousness and to come together and talk about how they want to improve the world around them,” said Tamara Houston, founder and CEO of Icon Mann.
As a talent manager and producer, Houston said her first goal was to start with entertainers, because of the wealth of influence they carry.
“If we can get those men on a similar thought pattern of connectivity, we’re going to get more diversity in stories, we’re going to get more diversity in character, and what happens when you do that is you start to change a consciousness, and then we are part of the inclusion.”
Honoree Richard Roundtree, who rose to fame for his portrayal in “Shaft,” sparked Houston’s creation of Icon Mann after she heard him say at an Essence Festival that he had never been in a room filled with the fellowship of black people in the industry.
“Given what we’re going through politically and with the Academy Awards, this is an important evening for us to come together and celebrate each other,” Roundtree said. “We are as important as any other man walking, and to not be acknowledged for the successes that we have had is an injustice.”