Feb. 6, 2016, marked the fourth annual Georgia Entertainment gala, and this year proved to be much bigger than previous years. For founder and executive producer Autumn Bailey, this year was especially rewarding as Mayor Kasim Reed opened the ceremony by greeting the 1,800 guests dressed in their black-tie finest, with words of congratulations and support for the work Bailey and her team have consistently done in uniting the Georgia film community over the last four years.
The event was hosted by Pooch Hall (Ray Donovan, The Game) and Valery Ortiz (Hit the Floor, Skirtchasers ).
“Mayor Reed has been a supporter since day one, this is the first time he attended which was very special to us. Mayor Reed is special because he supports not just the city of Atlanta, but the state of Georgia as a whole. I also have to thank Gov. Nathan Deal for sending his blessings via video and for being an avid supporter for me as well as the gala,” Bailey says. She also extended a heartfelt thank you to friend of the gala, Atlanta attorney Brian Poe for presenting Mayor Reed with an award for his outstanding contribution to the Georgia entertainment industry.
Actress-songstress Demetria McKinney performed a solo musical performance.
In order to understand its inception, one must know Bailey’s motivation when moving to Atlanta in 2008 after attending college in Raleigh, North Carolina. After her husband’s job transferred the young couple to Atlanta, Bailey resigned herself to following her dreams of being a filmmaker within her city. At the time, Atlanta wasn’t known for anything except music and most of her networking efforts fell on useless soil as they were exclusively aimed at those who wanted to follow in the footsteps of LaFace instead of the legacy of DreamWorks.
Bailey and her partner Brent Brooks started a networking group that catered to young professionals with aspirations in Atlanta’s nonexistent film and television industry. It wasn’t long before Get Connected was boasting almost 1,000 monthly guests and an opportunity was extended to do something even bigger to celebrate the growing film and television industry.
“God put it on my heart to do the gala in 2012. The first year we had 1,100 guests and every year after that it’s grown. This year we had 1,800 guests and I was happily surprised. To see all these people from various backgrounds all dressed in their black-tie finest blesses me. My goal has always been to take the gala to the next level, every year I want to add value to the experience,” Bailey says.
With 13 categories and a full program, including music and dance, the Georgia Entertainment gala offers an collective celebration of life music, art, dance and, of course, theater.
Bailey’s vision for the Georgia Entertainment gala has grown along with Atlanta’s surge of television and film projects that span the gamut in diversity. Although she had no idea there would be such growth in the last four years, Bailey believes everything has worked for the benefit of the community for which she advocates.
“Everything happening here in Atlanta is exciting for me because I am a filmmaker first and foremost, my goal has always been to make movies and find distribution for projects. This proves that those of us who want to do film don’t have to move to Los Angeles or New York to follow our dreams. The gala has been celebrating those accomplishments and opportunities as they’ve grown larger and larger, it has allowed us to raise the bar for the state of Georgia.”
In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of the film communities best and brightest, the Georgia Entertainment gala donates a portion of the proceeds to various charities in the state of Georgia. This year beneficiaries included the Atlanta Children’s Shelter and Angels Among Us Pet shelter.
“We have raised over $50,000 for Atlanta charities and last year fed over 150,000 with Hosea Feed the Hungry. A portion of all monies earned go to charity and the rest goes to cover the event. We’re very proud of this,” Bailey says.