A few weeks back, General Motors invited me to be their guest at the 42nd Annual NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles. I was thrilled! And the trip was totally AMAZING! As always, GM does everything first class. Here’s the skinny on everything–
First of all, I flew cross country on Virgin America Airlines. I had never flown on Virgin before, but had heard great things. They didn’t disappoint. The cabin of the plane had neon lights! I may have been more dazzled if it had been a night flight, as it was a bit much for a 7am flight. But, the other amenities were top notch! Every seat has both an electric plug and a USB outlet, which was cool. And there was television, radio, and movies. But the coolest thing was the touch screen infotainment system. You used it to order your food and drink. Just touch whatever u want, slide your credit card, and in a few minutes the attendant would bring it to you. How cool is that?
As soon as I landed, I was met by the GM representative. Again, top notch. I was shuttled from the airport in a new, electric Chevy Volt. It definitely turned heads. In case, you’ve forgotten, check my Volt post here. I didn’t know what to expect from a Beverly Hills hotel, but I was totally BLOWN AWAY by the SLS Beverly Hills. SLS is the luxury brand of Starwood and it was DEF luxurious. It’s quite a nightspot as well, so there is a separate entrance for hotel guests. I was met in the lobby by the ULTRA COOL Nina Price, GM’s Diversity Communications Manager. I hadn’t seen her since Blogalicious in October, so there were hugs and kisses all around. She gave me my welcome packet and made sure that I was checked in. Then the bellman took me up to my room.
Let me just say that the SLS is one of THOSE hotels. You know the ones I mean. Where you keep wondering if you are REALLY cool enough to even be there. It’s a place for THOSE cool people. When we got off the elevator, we were in a lounge area. Every floor has one. There’s television and a pool table for THOSE cool people to play. When we finally got to my room, I held it together until the bellman left, but then I actually screamed and jumped up and down–much like those folks in casinos do. JACK! POT! It was the coolest hotel room that I’ve ever been in. Hands down. Let me tell you about it…
First of all, the bed was in the middle of the floor. Behind the bed, was a nice work area. I used this space a LOT during my stay. The bed had built in, shelved night tables on both sides. The shelves held all kinds of things, like a Bose clock radio with a iPod dock in it. COOL! There was also a cool leather bench with another table in the room. Everything was grand, until I noticed that there was NO TV. NO TV? Seriously? How could there be a hotel room with no TV? Fine. I’m in Beverly Hills, I’ll just do without television for a couple days. Oh yeah, the room had floor to ceiling windows with a magnificent view. I was in heaven. Heaven doesn’t come with tv, though. I went to check out the bathroom. WHOA! HUGE bathroom. Sliding walls. An infinity sink. A rainfall shower. JACK. POT. Oh yeah, and the armoire. There was a huge armoire when you walked in that held a nice closet, but also a pull down mini bar. But no tv. <sad face> I came back into the room to get out my laptop, and noticed that on one of the night table shelves, there was a remote for a tv. Wait a minute–WHAT tv? I gave the room the once over yet again. NO TV. I even thought that perhaps I was on Candid Camera, so I searched for at least 5 minutes for a camera. Then, it dawned on me. TURN ON THE REMOTE, you dummy! So, I did. LO AND BEHOLD. There IS a television. A 40 inch television. A nice television. An INVISIBLE television. It’s inside the floor to ceiling mirror that’s in front of the bed. With the television off, it’s just a mirror–but with the tv on…whoa…here’s a pic of it.
HOW COOL IS THAT? I admit, it is way cool. But THIS is how GM rolls…
Later that night, we met downstairs in the lobby for dinner. Our cool little Chevy Volts shuttled us over to the VERY fab Beso Restaurant, owned by Eva Longoria. We had a private upstairs dining room, that overlooked the rest of the place. VERY NICE. It was here that I met the rest of the group. The group consisted of media guests (like me), as well as a few of GM’s minority dealers, minority suppliers, and GM management. We totaled about 30, I guess. I knew some of the management folks, like Vivian Pickard (Director of Corporate Relations and also President of the GM Foundation), Eric Peterson (US Vice President, Diversity), Kevin Williams (President of GM Canada) and Jocelyn Allen (Director of Regional, Grassroots, and Diversity Communications). The only media guest that I knew was Jawn Murray of the Tom Joyner Morning Show. But there were others, as well, including Kia Hopings of Sister 2 Sister Magazine, Terry Shropshire of Rolling Out Magazine, Hiram Jackson of Real Time Media, and Marilyn White of Precious Times Magazine. They were truly a great bunch. Oh, and on our way back to the hotel, a policeman pulled up next to us and rolled down his window. We were all wondering what kind of traffic law we had broken, and were pleasantly suprised when he asked questions about the car. He was interested in the Volt!!!!
The next morning, we were treated to a FAB brunch. The great Willis Edwards, a civil rights icon and NAACP board member, welcomed us on behalf of the organization. I could have listened to him for hours. Then we had a panel discussion about General Motors’ work with minorities and also its philanthropic outreach efforts. A great discussion. And an eye opener for me. You see, I’ve always thought that if one OWNED an automobile dealership, especially one of the Big Three, they were a person of means. What I met were people that were much like me, except they had somehow gotten involved in a General Motors program that ended with them becoming a dealer. Quite an impressive group. Even more impressive was Leon Richardson’s story. Highly educated, he landed a coveted job in a chemical product company and later being treated wrongly by that same company. He quit in protest and a few years later, came back and BOUGHT the company. LOVE IT! It was also during this brunch that I had one of my most proud moments in life. One of GM’s executives actually mentioned me, by name, and talked about my blog and how I am an “influencer” in South Florida. I was the ONLY non traditional journalist there. It was all I could do not to cry. But I didn’t. I thought about how ugly my Lady Lash mascara would look running down my face and held it together. HA!
Finally, it was time to go to the Awards. The Chevy Volts filled up and we headed to the Shrine Auditorium. We even got to walk the red carpet. The night was magical! I didn’t get to take any pictures, as I didn’t have press credentials–I was truly a guest. Some of the highlights included Prince and also the FIONE ALL THE TIME, Halle Berry. I saw Common, Angela Bassett, Kimberly Elise, and many, many more celebrities. Another great thing, just before the show started, a charming young man came and sat beside me. HE WAS HUGE, but quite charming. I loved him the instant he sat down. Turns out, he is a singer. His name is Abraham McDonald. He won the first Oprah Karaoke Challenge. Later that night, I checked him on the internet. HE CAN SANG! Stay tuned for more on him–he deserves his own story.
Anyhow, after the show Jocelyn, Kia, and myself had dinner and just chatted. The dinner conversation with these women was truly amazing. Wait, did I mention that we were joined by media maven, Flo Anthony. I LOVE ALL of these chicks!
And then it was over. Check the slideshow for pics. Had a great time, Los Angeles! I’ll be back soon!!
Disclosure: I was a guest of General Motors for this trip. They provided my travel, lodging and meals. The opinions are my own.