Hollywood Creative Alliance’s Astra Awards

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Two Nights Celebrating Diversity & Creativity in Entertainment

This past weekend, stars from TV and Film came out to celebrate their excellence and their craftsmanship. The Hollywood Creative Alliance (HCA) hosted the 2024 HCA Astra Awards – one evening for film and another for TV. If any organization knows how to celebrate its community, it’s a creative one, and that’s what the Hollywood Creative Alliance is known for. The vision and mission of the HCA is to amplify diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and culture in film and television. The HCA is a membership-based, not-for profit organization and includes actors, critics, entertainment journalists, publicists, content creators and industry insiders. They focus on celebrating the arts and the creative minds and talent working within them. The Astra awards are two nights filled with celebrations – for those nominated, those who’ve won and those cheering on their craft.

Getting to interview celebs as they walk the red carpet is glamorous – and don’t worry, we will talk fashion in a moment – but it’s also a chance to learn. To learn what has made people successful, what motivates them, what they’ve overcome and how they hope to grow. These are all interesting facts of course to know about your favorite celebrities, but more importantly, they’re tips you can walk away with in your own life, no matter the field you work in, where you live or if you never walk a red carpet in a ballgown or tux. A common theme I heard among those I interviewed and those being interviewed around me, is that you never know how you will succeed unless you try, you should never give up on a dream and you should take inspiration from everything around you.

Left: Colman Domingo, Fantasia Barrino & Danielle Brooks from The Color Purple; Center: Astra Awards; Right: the cast of the winning show The Boys
Left: Danielle Brooks with her Astra; Center: Hailee Steinfeld; Right: Abigail Spencer

Take actress Tara Westwood for example. While chatting with Tara about her funky and fabulous look for the night, she told me she loved the In Earnest fashion label and wanted to wear one of their designs. She reached out, asking if they would dress her, and voila, they did! She said, “you’ll never know if you don’t ask.” Maybe actress Anjali Bhimani’s message will spark some inspiration. Again, talking about her fabulous and glamorous look for the night, I asked her, since she was there for Ms. Marvel, a mini-series about a girl who gets superpowers if she took that into play with her outfit and felt like it was an armor that made her feel powerful? Her reply was simple but strong. “It isn’t about being powerful but feeling empowered. They are two different things. This community makes me feel empowered. This look, including a necklace from mom, makes me feel empowered.” Actress Jessica Parker Jackson, a presenter at the awards, had a sweet acknowledgment to that same community. When I asked Jessica about her stunning, and sparkly gown, she said she wanted to have a moment to shine on stage, but felt like she was paving a path -literally, with the shimmering lights on her sparkling look – for those being nominated and the person who would come to stage to claim their award. Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, and HCA Winner Garcelle Beauvais looked like a total boss babe with an old Hollywood glamour spin in a purple powersuit. When I asked if her look channeled her film, Black Girl Missing, in any way, she shared that power has a lot meanings in the movie and she wanted to represent her power as an exectuive producer and star while she is on the red carpet – in her words, “what’s more powerful than a suit.” Sure, these were all fashion-based questions, it is a red carpet after all, but the messages weren’t about fashion. They were about feeling a part of a welcoming creative community! The HCA Astra’s exemplified and celebrated that community.

Top Left: Willem Dafoe; Top Right: Alex Borstein & Marin Hinkle from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Bottom Left: Angeline Walsh & Giorgina Lascu, nominees from The Coroner’s Assistant; Bottom Right: Troy Kotsur
Top Left: Dewayne Perkins & Alex Wolff; Top Right: winner Weird Al Yankovic; Bottom Left: Barbie Queen and winner Greta Gerwig; Bottom Right: Jeremy Sisto and winner Garcelle Beauvais
Top Left: Layla Mohammadi & Niousha Noor; Top Right: the red carpet; Bottom Left: Fantasia Barrino & the winners from John Wick; Bottom Right: Madeleine McGraw & Violet McGraw

The night wasn’t only about feelings, it included plenty of frills and fun too. Because I am a fashion girl and love to see red-carpet looks all during awards season, I’ll share some of my favorites from the Astras with you now and some fun tidbits from the stars who chose them!

Layla Mohammadi chose her look from her archives. A look she dreamed of wearing, paired with timeless classics – a red lip and classic black bow.
Diana Maria Riva founded Latinas Acting Up during the SAG Strike. She embodies the hope of change and looks classic in black, an ensemble she chose to feel her most confident.
Alex Wolff was in a stark contrast to his Oppenheimer character, always wearing orange. That character stood out in bold color, but Alex stood out in a sleek black suit.
Anjali Bhimani looked radiant in her metallic gown and stunning jewels, which she borrowed from her mom, who came from India to attend the show with her.
Abby Ryder Forston from Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret was honored with the HCA Star on the Rise award. What’s up next for her – her next semester of high school. A grounded, lovely young lady.

Photo Credit: Sarah Meyer

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