A beautiful mansion as a part of the glorious, commodious arena that is East Hampton was host to the 1st Annual Compound Foundation’s “Fostering A Legacy Benefit,” which was presented by Porsche Cars (North America). The Compound Foundation has been in effect since 2007 from Ne-Yo and his business partner Reynell Hay, with the crooner’s mother Loraine Smith as the President. Compound is an earnest, altruistic effort to support the dreams and conditions of children in foster care and group placement, and the foundation has produced various youth development and empowerment programs, and scholarships.
On July 14, charitable individuals including some familiar faces such as Russell Simmons, Elise Neal, Rosci Diaz, Jason Kidd, Adrienne Bailon and Ravaughn from Empire Girls—and a discreet Paula Abdul attended the fundrasier benefit and award ceremony.
The latest comeback kid, comedic star Arsenio Hall, co-hosted the event with Ne-Yo, and two other major icons were also within reach. A revolutionary for his ideas in film; the other, an exemplary figure of an ordinary person that did an extraordinary act. George Lucas, the creator of the renown Stars Wars and Indiana Jones series, was one of two honorees of the night.
Lucas exclaimed during the acceptance speech of his Compound award that he made films to “inspire kids” and to remind them that a “real future was out there for them”. As the father of three adopted children, he jokingly stated that at the end of the day, “It all comes down to the black mother” which was met with hearty laughter and a round of applause, and was in reference to his (literally) blushing fiancee who was in the audience. Roscoe Brown who was an original member of the Tuskegee Airmen (the first U.S. black military aviators, in WWII) was also there, as Lucas masterminded the film Red Tails about the Airmen released earlier this year (as he had famously used $93 million of own money to finance the film which Hollywood had been resisting for years). The other honoree was The Coca-Cola Company for their impressive contribution of $19 million towards educational initiatives, participation in volunteer work, and apprenticeships, with a staff of the company happily accepting the award on the popular beverage company’s behalf.
When asked about how the film Red Tails directly connects to The Compound Foundation, in a baseball-styled cap that donned the film’s title, Brown said: “The Compound is about ambition, overcoming obstacles because of prejudice, which Red Tails was all about. We had to strive for excellence. Both are encouraging kids to be as good as anybody at anything.” Ne-Yo concurred Brown’s statement by adding, “Your circumstances have nothing to do with how far you can go. The sky is not the limit.” As the affable host, when he spoke of Ne-Yo and Compound, Hall had nothing but praise, which he pronounced in his distinctive chatterbox excitement: “I was first approached by doing something for the program back at the premiere of Death at a Funeral, and I was talking with Chris Rock. You know Ne-Yo…is a classy guy, and I just had to tell him that. And I’m glad when people say he’s not the black Sinatra because he’s very special. He’s giving hope to those that really need it.”
As Hall went on to recall the hilarious memories of his reaction to his cameo in the film Ghost, Rosci urged the press to “vote Obama” during a photo op, and Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE receiving two thumbs up from Ne-Yo, it was a jovial afternoon that turned into a calm breeze of a night with donations for the organization at a great high. It all concluded with Ne-Yo performing a medley of his hits like “Sexy Love” and “Give Me Everything” to a ready to dance crowd. The benefit was graciously held at the mansion of philanthropists Bill and Michele Nuti, and theme of the night stayed strong on passing on the desire to create an admirable legacy, the importance of believing in yourself, and the simple yet meaningful kindness of helping others.
To learn more, please check out www.compoundfoundation.org