Breaking Barriers
Awards Gala

Touching the lives of those we inspire and celebrating those who opened the doors of opportunity
Triumph Award
Ruth E. Carter’s unparalleled ability to develop an authentic story through costume and character has made her one of the most sought after and renowned costume designers today. She is the 2019 Academy Award winner for “Best Costume Design” for her work on BLACK PANTHER, making history as the first African American to win in that category. She has also garnered two additional Academy Award nominations for Spike Lee’s MALCOM X (1993) and Steven Spielberg’s AMISTAD (1998) as well as an Emmy nomination in 2016 for the reboot of ROOTS.
She has worked in the industry for over three decades and has been credited with over forty films and counting, collaborating with Spike Lee on over ten films beginning with SCHOOL DAZE and including DO THE RIGHT THING, MALCOLM X and OLD BOY. 

Carter is known for her research and diligence to the craft of costume design, specifically for her outstanding work for period ensemble films such as the highly praised Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER, Ava Duvernay’s SELMA and MARSHALL, directed by Reginald Hudlin. Carter completed work on the first season of YELLOWSTONE, a television series starring Kevin Costner and directed by Taylor Sheridan. Additionally, she is the costume designer on the Netflix film, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, starring Eddie Murphy and directed by Craig Brewer, and the FOX series COSMOS: POSSIBLE WORLDS, premiering in Spring 2019. This Summer, Carter will begin production on Paramount's highly-anticipated COMING 2 AMERICA, also directed by Craig Brewer and starring Eddie Murphy.

In 2019, Carter received the "Career Achievement Award" and "Excellence in Sci-fi/Fantasy Film" from the Costume Designers Guild and the Critics Choice Award for "Best Costume Design” for BLACK PANTHER, among numerous other honors.
Carl Jones & Thomas Walker  launched CROSS COLOURS, a groundbreaking line of apparel with a single message: Clothing Without Prejudice. It’s a message that’s as important today as it has ever been.

Since 1989, Cross Colours has influenced the world of hip hop, sports, and pop culture. From Muhammad Ali, to TLC, to Will Smith, everyone was wearing CxC.
Today, Cross Colours is introducing their message of unity, equality, and empowerment to a whole new generation.
Though countless shows are dubbed “major,” and nearly every model is lauded as the next big thing, true game-changing fashion moments are few and far between. Shifts significant enough to challenge the status quo don’t come around often, but in 1974, when Beverly Johnson appeared on the cover of Vogue, it was a landmark moment. It had taken more than eight decades, but finally a person of color was fronting the world’s foremost fashion magazine. The portrait, by Francesco Scavullo, didn’t shy away from Johnson’s blackness or depict her as an “other.” Instead, it presented a vision of elegant beauty that was relatable and real and totally of her era.
While Johnson’s cover instantly elevated her from working model to superstar, the road getting there wasn’t easy. Initially rejected by legendary agent Eileen Ford, Johnson was later accepted by Ford Models. When her managers suggested that major magazine covers weren’t going to happen due to her race, Johnson didn’t become disheartened—she got new managers, moving to former model Wilhelmina Cooper’s eponymous agency and carving out a niche for herself. Other covers came, but for Johnson there was only one that actually mattered, later telling CNN, “Every model’s dream [is] to be on the cover of Vogue. You have arrived when you made the cover of Vogue. And then when I found out I was the first person of color on the cover and what that meant, I was like, Wow, this is really a big deal.” And it really was.
After her groundbreaking cover, Johnson used her celebrity to champion civil rights causes and open doors for other black models. In the years since, she’s become an actress, entrepreneur, and author, but Johnson can still pose with the best of them. Though she would later go on to grace Vogue’s cover three more times, Johnson’s historic first earned her a place in history and gave modeling one of its biggest stars. Take a look back at the many times Johnson appeared in Vogue’s pages and how her iconic images have stood the test of time.
Icon Award
Obba Babatundé is an actor, singer, dancer, director, writer and producer. Obba's breadth of work is known worldwide by audiences of all ages, and his face is one of the most recognizable in the entertainment industry. His career spans over 4 decades and he is a unique breed in today's industry as a triple-threat (and more). Obba is comfortable in the expression of various musical instruments and all forms of dance. In addition to his award-winning performances on stage and screen, he is a nationally renowned speaker and master class teacher for adult and young audiences alike.

Obba has often been referred to, and is considered a 'living legend' and is a treasured role model to actors and entertainers of all generations. Central to Obba's career is his unrelenting work ethic and his pursuit of a standard of excellence in everything he does.

Amongst Obba's many professional awards and nominations is his Daytime Emmy Award win (2016) for CBS's Bold & the Beautiful, his Emmy nominated performance in the HBO movie "Miss Evers' Boys," his Tony Award nomination for his role as "C.C. White," in the original Broadway cast of "Dreamgirls", his "Best Actor" Award win for the Musical "Sammy" from the San Diego Critic's Circle Awards, his NAACP Image Award win as "Best Actor" for his role as "Sarge" in "A Soldiers Play", the NAACP Trailblazer Award win, an NAACP Image Award-nominated performance in the HBO movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," multiple Ovation Award nominations, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Peachtree Village International Film Festival.

Obba has appeared in more than 17 stage productions (several on Broadway), 33 films, 60+ television series and made-for-television movies. Presently, Obba can be seen in 4 prime-time series for; Netflix(Dear White People), Showtime (I'm Dying Up Here), Comedy Central (Detroiters) and CBS (Bold & Beautiful). Many people will remember him from his groundbreaking entry into the entertainment industry during his international tour and co-starring roll with Liza Minnelli in "Liza in Concert", which lead to his close relationship with professional mentor, Sammy Davis Jr. Obba's contributions and starring roll (as CC White) in the original production of Dreamgirls on Broadway is one of his most treasured accomplishments.

His distinct, unique speaking and singing voice can be heard in multiple ads, commercials, as well as narration for docu-dramas. His animation career includes the feature film The Wild Thornberrys, Air Bud Entertainment / Fandango Production's Pup Star movies, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike and Disney Infinity 3.0 [1] and Rocket Power... to name a few.

Obba's writing, directing and producing skills include the Lionsgate Home Entertainment feature film "American Bad Boy" starring Katt Williams, co-producer and director roles in "Oscar's Black Odyssey," co-producer of "Dorothy Dandridge An American Beauty," co-producer of "TV in Black The First 50 Years." He was the associate producer of the horror classic film "Voodoo Dolls" and the executive producer and director of the award-winning short films "Journey" and "Clarissa's Gift. " He co-authored, directed and produced the critically-acclaimed theatrical stage play "In The Blink of An Eye."It is easy to see why Obba is often referred to as one of the busiest actors in Hollywood.

Obba has dedicated his life and career to sharing his time, expertise and creative talents with all people, be it professional or personal. He has an uncanny way of making everyone feel as if he is always speaking to them directly and personally. People have described Obba as being genuine, passionate, engaging and at times...very funny!

In addition to his on-going acting and artistic projects, Obba is constantly being asked to teach, emcee, host, serve as a keynote speaker and facilitate classes, events, festivals and projects around the world. He leaves an indelible mark everywhere he goes. Obba often says "your do is not your who." When asked to explain, he says "your do is how you affect change in your life. Your who if how you affect change in someone else's life."

Obba's journey into the entertainment industry became intentional in high school when he began writing poetry and then, while attending Brooklyn College. His pursuits deepened when he began to expand his poems into one-act plays. Simultaneously, he immersed himself into the New York theatre and dance worlds. Studying under many noted directors and choreographers like Geoffrey Holder, Bob Fossey, Michael Bennett, Hal Prince, Thelma Hill, Frank Hatchett, Henry LeTang, Louis Johnson and Titos Sompa just to name a few.

Obba learned early on in his career that being authentic and tapping into ones humanity were important to develop and inform his craft. He comes from the mindset that it is essential to deliver diverse types of artistic skills to his audiences and, always in the highest caliber possible. Be it the big screen, the small screen, or the stage. He discovered purpose and community at the same time.

Some little-known facts about Obba is that has a strong background rooted in the educational field. He was a co-founder with his brother Akin Babatundé and teacher of one of NYC's first arts-based schools (in Brooklyn, NY). Fluent in American Sign Language (self-taught), and also a horse whisperer, as well as a rodeo competitor. Obba is a dedicated father and proud grandfather.

It has been said, that Obba has a way of communicating that helps inspire, encourage and enlighten through his stories and phrases that he identifies as "Obba-isms."

"As proud as I am of all that I have done, I am even more excited about what I am to do." - Obba Babatundé
Master of Ceremony