Philadelphia, PA (December 5, 2023) — BlackStar Projects presented the 2023 BlackStar Luminary Awards at the inaugural Luminary Gala, held at the W Hotel in Philadelphia on December 4. The sold out event’s honorees included Shannon Maldonado, Founder & Creative Director of YOWIE, June Givanni, Curator & Director of the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive, COUSIN, a collective supporting Indigenous artists expanding the form of film, and Telfar Clemens and Babak Radboy, the founder and creative director of TELFAR.
“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized for the work that COUSIN has done,” said Adam Piron, who founded COUSIN along with filmmakers Adam Khalil, Alexandra Lazarowich, and Sky Hopinka. “BlackStar has provided a space for our own work and the artists that we’ve supported, a space in which what we’ve done has been recognized on its own terms and conditions, one that is hard to find even within our own communities, which is what has made this award such a meaningful experience for all of us.”
The night was hosted by South Side stars Bashir Salahuddin and Chandra Russell, and also featured musical performances by Durand Bernarr and Laurin Talese. The lead sponsor of the event was Comcast, with additional support from Anne Ishii & Julia Y.C. Huang, and Joe + Monroe (full list of sponsors below).
“It was very inspiring to see the dynamic community that rallies around BlackStar and their mission,” said Maldonado. “I felt honored to be recognized among such a luminary group of people.”
The Host Committee for the Gala included: Anjali Kumar, Founder, Slightly Reserved (Co-chair); Errin Haines, Founding Mother and Editor at Large for The 19th (Co-chair); Jason Ray, CEO, Zenith Wealth Partners (Co-chair); Anne Ishii, Executive Director, Asian Arts Initiative; Brandon Pankey, CEO, Artist Presented Experiences (APEX); Deesha Philyaw, Author; Isaac Ewell, Founder & Creative Director at Onehunted; James Claiborne, SVP of Exhibitions and Programs, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; Lauren Jane Holland, Agent, Creative Artists Agency; Lindsey Scannapieco, Managing Partner, Scout; Michelle Trotter; Noura Erakat, American activist; and Tarana Burke, Founder, ‘me too’ International.
Special Visionary Leadership Awards were also handed out to BlackStar’s longest-standing board member, Denise Beek, co-chair of the board of directors and Vice President of Storytelling at Represent Justice, and to outgoing Chief Operations Officer Sara Zia Ebrahimi. See more photos in the 2023 Luminary Gala Gallery.
Anne Ishii & Julia Y.C. Huang
Joe + Monroe
Lauren Jane Holland
David B. Devan
Forman Arts Initiative
Poh Si Teng