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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

White Hot Impact Awards

The 2012 Impact Awards were one for the record books this year.  It’s already been a month since they happened and I’m still enthused about all the positive energy and forward thinking that was abound that evening. 

The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) Impact Awards recognizes outstanding contributions to the positive portrayal of Latinos in media.  And I was there along with many other Latino leaders who came together to commemorate the achievements of the 2012 Local Impact Awards recipients:  

Actress, Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar, Fast and Furious movies)
TV Personality, Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer)
Actor, Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality, Traffic)
Actor, Efren Ramirez (Napolean Dynamite, Crank)
Actress, Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation)
Music artist, Taboo (Black Eye Peas) and 
Director, Chris Weitz. (The Golden Compass, New Moon, A Better Life)

Sounds awesome right?  And I started this very cool evening on the red carpet.  You would think I’m quite adept at doing the pomp and circumstance of this grand old Hollywood tradition but truth be told, I had butterflies in my stomach this night...not sure why but...I kinda liked it.  

I realized that the nerves in my stomach, as I was about to step out on the red carpet to get photographed and interviewed, were a subtle reminder that this could never get old for me and that I would never take these opportunities for granted.  When the flash bulbs started going off taking pictures of me and the interviews that followed...Gosh, I felt alive and my head was swimming in the realization that not long ago, I used to daydream about being at these types of Hollywood parties, doing their red carpets and mingling with these types of Hollywood people!  Butterflies in my, never felt so good! 

Actress & Host Kikey Castillo styled by: Steve Galindo photo by: Angela Maria Ortiz S.

friend and actor Dante Acosta and actress Kikey Castillo photo by: Angela Maria Ortiz S.

actress Kikey Castillo being interviewed by media

And get this, As soon as I walked off the red carpet I was greeted by a silver platter filled with sparking flutes of Moet & Chandon champagne and these beautiful woman holding giant sized Moet & Chandon bottles...had to take a pic, oh and Yes, I will take one, thank you...Wow! Now this is Celeb style!!  

After my friend and I basked in the VIP treatment for a bit we headed downstairs to the reception area to mingle before the gala.  

On my way there, I had to descended the grand stairs at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (the hotel Julia Roberts stayed in the movie Pretty Women) that opened up into an opulent setting where the reception vibe was buzzing with energy.  As I was taking each descending step I had this brief surreal moment where I felt like the Belle of the Ball gliding gracefully down the majestic grand staircase making my entrance to the ball, I know, it's silly and obviously I watch too many movies and TV!!!  But it really felt special so I tucked away the warm fuzzy feeling in my memory to relish at a later time.  

Stairs that opened up to the reception area photo by: Jose Vargas Ulloa

After my whimsical thought passed and I set my two feet solidly on ground (and out of the clouds) I was greeted by many of my friends in the "biz" including my friends at MALDEF - David Damian Figueroa, Thomas A. Saenz, Cynthia Gutierrez and actor Jordi Vilasuso, it had been awhile since I saw them last...since the 2010 LA MALDEF Gala where I was the Mistress of Ceremonies.  After some fun mingling with them and meeting new people it was off to our seats for the main program.

LtoR: Thomas A. Saenz, actress Kikey Castillo, Cynthia Gutierrez, actor Jordi Vilasuso and David Damian Figueroa

As a guest of Efrain Fuentes, Director of Diversity Programs at Disney, I of course had the honor and pleasure to sit at the Disney sponsored table, Disney was also the dinner sponsor for the event and what a showing!  Usually the food at these events can be a little less than tasty probably due to the mass production of the food but this year - it met my foodie standards!

Director, Diversity Programs at Disney, Efrain Fuentes and actress Kikey Castillo

Disney table up front and to the of the best seats in the house :) photo by: Jose Vargas Ulloa

The Masters of Ceremonies for the evening were actor Rob Schneider and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols - who play Rob and Maggie on CBS's ¡Rob!  Truth be told, I've been a fan of Rob Schneider for a while!  Let's just say I saw 'Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo' and 'The Animal' in the theaters…yep he got my box office money :)  They were both really good and I had the pleasure of meeting them along with other cast members of ¡Rob! during the dinner intermission.  

What is the dinner intermission?  Well, about twenty minutes into the program there's an intermission where you eat and meet the other guests at your table before the program resumes.  But what really ends up happening...everyone jumps out of their seats to mingle and rub elbows with the whole room and for me it was super great fun this year.  

I usually tend to get shy during these moments but not this time, I was in butterfly mode and was very comfortable making new acquaintances.  Of course it didn't hurt that I had some Girl Power behind me...I ran into friend, Olivia Campos-Bergeron from CBS, who introduced me to quite a few people including the cast of ¡Rob! and her friend Alicia, publicist for CBS, also helped me make the rounds (what amazing gals huh?)

LtoR: Oliva Campos-Bergeron, Alicia, actress Claudia Bassols and actress Kikey Castillo

actress Kikey Castillo and actor Rob Scheider

actress Kikey Castillo and actor Cheech Marin

The two Kiki's, Comedienne and wonderful guest of 'Let's Talk!', Kiki Melendez and actress/host Kikey Castillo

Writer, Lemise Rory, and actress Kikey Castillo.  I performed one of her pieces at a CBS showcase 

And it was during the dinner intermission that I was able to steal Alex Nogales away for a slight moment, just long enough to take a picture with him and chat for a few brief moments.  Who's Alex Nogales?  Well to me he is a friend and a fan of my acting work ever since he saw me in the Imagen Award Winning stage production of "8 Ways to Say I Love My Life and Mean It!" and ever since then he's been like a little angel to me.  

But the public knows him as the man behind NHMC, President and CEO of National Hispanic Media coalition (NHMC) and a long time advocate of Latino rights in the entrainment business.  And of course, he is the man responsible for the NHMC Impact Awards... among many other great achievements. 

actress Kikey Castillo with President and CEO of NHMC Alex Nogales

After receiving a super great compliment from him about the future of my acting career, it was back to our seats for the rest of the gala.  Wait, this man believes in my future acting career?!  Holly Cow!!...OK, tucking this one away for a later time too.  

This is where the program really took off - the honorees accepting their awards.  And oh! What a magnificent treat it was!  Each and every one of them were so raw and open with us.  You could feel that they were letting us peek into their personal thoughts, lives, feelings and emotions.  There was a hushed intimacy in the room as they spoke to us with their hearts open as if we were their trusted was pretty darn special.  

A notable moment was when Demian Bichir, (Oscar nominee for Best Actor in 'A Better Life' but probably most well known for playing Esteban Reyes on Showtime's 'Weeds') made a surprise appearance to hand the Impact Award to friend Chris Weitz who was honored for directing 'A Better Life'.

actor Demian Bichir and director Chris Weitz photo by: Jose Vargas Ulloa

I wrapped up this glorious evening at the VIP after party for some more fun then soon after I was whisked away by my gallant white steed...ahem, aka my white SUV.  And as I drove off in stunned silence reminisncing of the fantastical evening where my dreams and reality melted into one ---- a night where I was inspired by the honorees on stage, a night of seeing old friends and meeting new ones, a night where I stepped out of my comfort zone and was embraced with open arms in Hollywood, a night where I secretly had another dream, that one day soon I too would be on that stage to receive an award.  

These are the moments in my life where it feels so pleasantly real that I am here., breathing, working and socializing in Hollywood...WOW, this is certainly my crazy Hollywood Life and as my blog's name aptly captures it ...LIVIN' LA VIDA LA!

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