Last Saturday, the 4th of March, was the 2017 Liberian Entertainment Awards held in Washington, DC. The Liberian Entertainment Awards #LEA is an event that recognizes Liberian artists, actors/actresses, film makers, producers and community crusaders. Each year since 2009, the award show has been celebrating the Liberian entertainment industry and its heritage. For close to a decade, this organization has brought excitement and anticipation to the Liberian community in the diaspora.
My first LEA experience was the second annual event in 2010 held in Atlanta, Georgia. Although I was nominated, I also went to be apart of the ceremony and to appreciate Liberian influencers. Back then, there was a lot of mix ups with the awards and technical difficulties which made the audience impatient and rowdy.
This year, my expectations and outlook of the event was high. After 6 years, I was sure the award show would have grown and made necessary changes to insure a better organized event. I completely admire and support the idea of having a platform that brings the community together to reward the efforts of individuals who are perfecting their crafts. However, in my opinion, better guidelines, requirements, and professionalism need to be implemented to perfect the show.
The direction of the show was incredible, but the flow of the show needs much improvement. The ceremony was scheduled to begin at 8 Pm. The show did not start until approximately 9:30. The attendees were very agitated by the tardiness which resulted in ending the show before giving all the awards and having the performers perform. The owners of the venue could not allow the show go on pass 11 Pm. By 11 Pm, there were several awards remaining to be presented and performers anticipating to grace the stage and wow the crowed. Unfortunately, they did not get that opportunity. The hosts of the show stated the delay was due to presenters and performers not being able to find parking. I find this reasoning unprofessional and unacceptable. The organizers should fine a venue with a parking garage/lot with parking attendants directing traffic to avoid chaos. Hopefully, adjustments will be made to avoid future delay.
The performances were incredible and definitely the best part of show. Talented musicians gave phenomenal performances that made the hairs on your arms stand. Moses Swary a talented gospel artist graced the stage first and gave a tribute to the late Quincy B. Berniece Blackie who is also an anointed Liberian gospel singer dedicated her ministry to Quincy B’s passing. Berniece Blackie was close to the late rising star because her producer was Quincy’s mentor, Infectous Micheal. D12, a Liberian artist from Minnesota had a terrific performance with the audience standing on their feet and giving him a standing ovation.
Video Provided by Gen Y TV
Having said that, the production team, and nominee screen technicians need improvement. In some categories the nominee screened worked and in others it did not. There needs to be consistency in the functionality of presenting an award and seeing the screen display the nominees. There needs to be a minimization in experiencing technical difficulties that halts the progress and hurts the quality of the show. When the screen did work, it didn’t display all the nominees in their various categories. For example; musical star Flex won an award for Best New Artist but he did not appear in the nominee category on the screen. Other artists were displayed, but Flex was not and he happened to be the recipient of the award.
Another rewarding aspect of the show was the presence of Mr. Patrick Burrowes, author of ” Between the Kola Forest & The Salty Sea” and uncle of the late Quincy B. He presented a copy of his book to former Liberian NFL player Tamba Hali. The book is inspired by the history of the Liberian people before the 1800’s. Link to purchase book
There were no indications of any companies advertising or promoting their brands at this event. Sponsorship is vital to any organization that depends on public financing. In 2015, I was honored to be a guest at the Nigerian Entertainment Awards in New York City. I observed that it was primarily sponsored by Arik Airline and a host of other companies. LEA should solicit the sponsorship of companies such as Lonstar, Cellcom, GT Bank, Coca Cola, The Monrovia Beer Factory and other financial institutions in Liberia.
Lastly, the host and organizers of the LEA need to give clear instructions to the audience on how to attend the after party. Attendees were not aware that in order to get a discount to the after party , tickets or media badges needed to be presented at the entrance. This lack of communication caused a lot of confusion and inconvenience.
After 9 years of the LEA being in existence, I would say there has been some improvement in the structure of the show. However, we still have a very long way to go. From interviewing people, it has been brought to my attention that most people are not attending the main event because they are dissatisfied with the poor planning of the show. So instead, they prefer to attend the weekend festivities and exclude the award show. These artists have worked hard to put on a good performance. It is unfair to them to not be be able to do so in front of a packed venue. What can be done to encourage people to equally attend both the award show and the after party?
In order to gain the interest of the community, the LEA has to:
- Minimize technical difficulties
- Have venue easily accessible (parking)
- Demand punctuality
- Propose Endorsers
Once the organizers have proven that the Liberian Entertainment Awards can produce a high quality show that can appeal to the masses, then people will look forward to attending and enjoying a well organized show.