Diana Ross brings glamour and soul to Byron Allen’s Oscars Gala

Celebrity guests and other boldface names gathered on the night of the "95th Academy Awards" at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for a fundraiser to benefit Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

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It was a night full of laughter, Hollywood glamour and soul music hits at Byron Allen’s Oscars Gala 2023. The annual fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles at the posh Beverly Wilshire Hotel brought out stars and power players alike. Allen, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group (AMG), began the tradition as a way to pay homage to the hospital that saved his life as a child.

“My mom and I ended up coming to L.A. in the summer of ’68 and they were very lean years, sleeping on a lot of floor sofas and spare bedrooms,” Allen told theGrio (which AMG owns) during an interview on the gala’s red carpet about the childhood he shared with his mom who was a teen when she gave birth to him. “Unfortunately, one day I got really ill, and she took me to Children’s Hospital, and I had a really bad leg infection.” 

Allen’s mother was told that his leg might have to be amputated because his life was in danger. “They saved my life and they saved my leg,” Allen recalls. “And they did not charge my mom one penny. That’s something obviously I’ve never forgotten and I never will.”

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Byron Allen attends the Byron Allen's 5th Annual Oscar Gala 2023 Benefiting Children's Hospital Los Angeles at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel on March 12, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Unique Nicole/Getty Images)
Allen Media Group Founder and CEO Byron Allen, who credits Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with saving his life, has for the last several years held a fundraiser to benefit the hospital. (Photo by Unique Nicole/Getty Images)

Now in its fifth year, Allen’s gala has raised millions for the hospital while delivering an entertaining evening during Hollywood’s biggest night of the year.

Notable gala guests included Smokey Robinson, Ben Crump, Vivica A. Fox, Shaun Robinson, Kel Williams, Mona Scott-Young, Jackée Harry, Tisha Campbell, Garcelle Beauvais, Yvette Nicole Brown and Kenya Barris. Hosts of Entertainment Studios’ court shows were also in attendance: Judge Kevin Ross, Judge Cristina Perez, Judge Lauren Lake, Judge Mablean Ephriam, Judge Karen Mills-Francis and the newest addition to the Allen Media Group family, Judge Greg Mathis.

The gala crowd dined at flower-decorated tables with gold napkins and menus, eagerly watching big screens and cheering during the live Oscars telecast that played, delivering applause for big moments such as Rihanna’s performance of “Lift Me Up” and Michelle Yeoh’s highly anticipated win for “Best Actress” in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” 

Comedian Jeff Ross took the stage for an unpredictable, yet hilarious roast of select guests, who graciously took their jokes in stride.

“I love stopping by the gala every year because it provides such a sense of community,” said Robert K. Harrell, a celebrity publicist. “Byron does all things well and he has mastered hospitality. He thinks of every detail at the event and it just elevates the Oscar night experience. Not to mention the performances every year are next level.”

And it was a supreme musical icon, Diana Ross, who stole the show this year, delivering classic ballads and up-tempo hits that got the attendees to their feet. The legendary songstress and actress took center stage donning a turquoise blue sequined outfit with a matching tulle overcoat and her signature full hair of curls. Her set included songs like “I’m Coming Out” and from her time with The Supremes, “Stop! In The Name of Love” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

Allen recalled his admiration for Ross and others from the Motown family. “As a kid, Berry Gordy, Diana Ross changed the way I saw myself as a little kid those first seven years in Detroit, Michigan,” Allen said, disclosing that his mother suggested Ross headline this year’s gala. “I just was obsessed with Berry Gordy and everything. Motown and Smokey Robinson, Four Tops, Temptations, Gladys Knight, The Supremes, Diana Ross. They gave me such pride and joy and inspired me.”

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Byron Allen (center), Jennifer Lucas (far left) and their children attend Byron Allen’s 5th Annual Oscar Gala 2023 Benefiting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on March 12, 2023, at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Unique Nicole/Getty Images)

Allen says he wants to inspire a new generation to not only give back through philanthropy, but in industries like entertainment and business. During the gala, he recalled the racism he endured in his early days because companies did not want to work with a Black person. Now, through events like the gala, he is changing the narrative.

“I really want to amplify Black excellence,” Allen said. “Because the world works really hard to act like we don’t have it. We don’t bring it; we don’t deliver it. And sometimes we don’t exist. And so I really just wanted to have a space where [it’s clear]: No, no, you’re excellent. I see you. I appreciate you.”

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