The Do Something Awards aren’t your average self-congratulatory Hollywood back-patting-palooza. Sure, there were celebrities and prizes. And press. And time-filling banter, limos and designer dresses. But a closer look revealed subtle differences like the bold chartreuse carpet instead of the standard stretch of red rug, the “overwhelming amount of positivity in the air” as honoree Jennifer Hudson pointed out and the fact that Kelly Osbourne was there to collect a trophy instead of critique couture.
“I don’t even care about my own outfit tonight or what people say about it,” the Fashion Police talking head told EW exclusively on before the July 31 awards show held at the Avalon nightclub. “It was literally the last thing I took care of because that isn’t what this show is about. Tonight is about more important things.”
The VH1-aired show instead is about trumpeting the good deeds of five celebrities. This year the winged silver shoes were bestowed upon Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), and LL Cool J (NCIS: Los Angeles) as well as the aforementioned Hudson and Osbourne who commented that it was the most uniquely shaped award she’d ever received.
“These days celebrity is almost synonymous with spoiled rich brat. A couple more tantrums in front of paparazzi and we’ll be there 100 percent,” explained LL Cool J who was singled out for Jump & Ball, a basketball tournament and summer camp held in his native Queens, as well as his work with Chrysalis, an organization that helps the homeless gain employment. “So it’s nice to be recognized as a human being trying to put some positivity out there in the world, as a guy who hasn’t forgotten where he came from and as part of a group of us not living up to the brat title.”
No stranger to the standardized style of show, Modern Family’s favorite ginger Ferguson admitted that being recognized for his “labor of love” Tie The Knot, the marriage equality advocate group he founded with his husband Justin Mikita last year. “I am obviously honored every time [our show] gets any sort of recognition, but this is definitely more special to me personally. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like something that I have to do, something so integral to who [I am]. To get an award for something that is in your veins is really moving. We are very lucky as actors to have the platform that we have to be able to bring attention to so many worthy causes.”
Yet Ferguson pointed out that they weren’t even the night’s true heroes and in turn unintentionally pinpointed another difference between the DSAs and just about every other prize parade in town. The same number of “regular people” as Ne-Yo nicknamed them also received the celebratory sneakers for fighting the good fight in their community. All under 25, Sasha Fisher (Spark MicroGrants), Daniel Maree (Million Hoodies Movement For Justice), Jillian Mourning (All We Want Is LOVE), Lorella Praeli (United We Dream), and Ben Simon (Food Recovery Network) were also each rewarded a $10,000 grant for their respective charities. A viewer vote during the live show designated an additional $100,000 to Maree’s organization as well.
“They are the stars of the show to me. Truly amazing,” Ferguson gushed. “I think about what I was doing and what I had accomplished at that age and it is nothing compared to what they are doing to make the world a better place. I feel like such a lazy, lazy person compared to them.”
Lazy did not apply to Hudson who earned a trainer trophy for founding the Chicago-based children’s charity Julian D. King Gift Foundation in honor of her late nephew and performed with J. Cole. Sara Bareilles and Fitz and The Tantrums also performed at the event.
“It isn’t all serious tonight. You get a side of live music,” Hudson joked on the carpet. Other moments of levity included one media outlet handing celebs 100 Grand chocolate bars (a nod to the grand prize), various photo booths that gave attendees like Carmen Electra, Darren Criss, Cynthia Nixon, Joan Rivers and Queen Latifah a chance to make funny faces and Danny Pudi (Community) and host Sophia Bush’s opening video which featured a tribute to the fantasy sequence in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. (Unfortunately, for most viewers, the wrong actor slipped into red bikini!)
Bush, after four costume changes (“That was my max. I’m just not Cher!”) and 10 acts, was still riding a do-gooder high. “A night like tonight is so powerful and so special because we are talking about people who are taking their good fortune in life, their passion or even their hardship and turning it outward and affecting the communities around them. That to me … I mean it’s over and I’m still so excited. It is just the best thing in the world when you can give back, when you can bake goodness into your life in that way.”
The feeling was contagious and presenter Aisha Tyler (Archer) was thrilled to catch it. “This week I was looking at the internet and thinking, ‘Man the world really sucks. It’s a terrible place. I don’t want to go out of the house.’ I really needed this night to remind me that the world is also full of wonderful, amazing, inspiring people who are doing incredible things. There is a lot of life on this planet and we need to honor it.”