Two Days with General Motors to Fete the American Black Film Festival

The best vacation is a staycation!

As an LA native and entertainment journalist, it’s sometimes easy to overlook staple spots because I frequent them so often without actually getting a chance to fully explore. Luckily, I was able to experience the Beverly Hilton after being invited for an overnight stay to celebrate the American Black Film Festival Honors presented by BET. 

After checking in, I was immediately impressed. My room was spacious. The balcony alone, which overlooked a mist-filled mountain view of the Pacific Palisades, was two times larger than most that I’ve encountered and the bathroom was designed in a way that you weren’t immediately greeted by the shower, etc. upon entering. Side-note, my favorite part of a hotel stay is discovering which toiletries they have available for guests because I love skincare, and Hilton did not disappoint with their L’Occtaine products. And in the name of unnecessary, but totally appreciated room features; there was a TV in the bathroom. Very Cribs circa 2005. Loved it. Although I was tempted to channel flip, while I did my makeup for the night, I opted not to. I had a hard call time to meet a General Motors Diversity Representative in the lobby to pick up my ticket for the night. 

Inside, I met my crew for the weekend at “Table 20” including Nina Parker, a contributor to Access Hollywood, Jarrett Hill, who broke Melania Trump’s infamous copycat speech, and a handful of other notables, reporters, and influencers.

Without giving away too much before it’s official 8 pm premiere tonight. The ceremony had a lot of emotional pulls from honorees and funny moments from the host Regina Hall. Clearly, she has a funny bone. Who hasn’t laughed at all of the Brenda from “Scary Movie” memes? But, the actress turned out to be a proper funny girl by taking credit for notable career moves for the night’s honorees including Denzel Washington, Issa Rae, F. Gary Gray, and Terrence Howard. 

The night ended with performances from Maxwell and an impromptu freestyle from Common. And of course, an after party followed. 

Day 2 started at 11 am. When I was told I would be shuttled to brunch, I didn’t expect to be greeted by a parade of Cadillacs. But I was. “You’re going in our CT6,” a voice nonchalantly said as I slid onto creme seats withAlkaline water on deck. Thanks Pressed Juicery, it was was the perfect answer to the Hennessey cocktails from the night before. 

Photo Courtesy of Michael Rowe Photography

Photo Courtesy of Michael Rowe Photography

If I had to use one word to describe brunch, I would use beyond. My tablemates were a diverse bunch. Not only were there journalists from the night before, but we were also joined by an architect, model, wedding planner, and music publisher. To say the least, in the midst of dining on fresh fruit, mussels, eggs benedict and a variety of desserts from Catch LA there were a lot of Black Excellence vibes, discussions about our careers, relationships, and just life in general.

My favorite moment that rounded out the weekend came from the ABFF founder, Jeff Friday who said, "We want to unleash talent and not allow the industry to pigeonhole certain groups." Although the phrase was dedicated to the film industry. I took it as a moment of inspiration to make space for myself and those around me. If there's a door that won't open, perhaps I'll build my own and implore others to do the same.  

Photo Courtesy of Michael Rowe Photography.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Rowe Photography.

To see more weekend's like this in real time follow my Instagram @ericka.denae !