There was an effortless warmth inside of Alfre Woodard’s (below, left) 7th annual Oscars Sistahs Soiree Wednesday night in West Hollywood, Calif. As industry vets like host Woodard and Lorraine Toussaint mingled with other celebs like Jurnee Smollett-Bell (above, left), Rosario Dawson (above, right), Aja Naomi King, and Regina Taylor (below, right) at the London Hotel’s Vivienne Westwood Penthouse, there was an obvious sisterhood, an unspoken respect and an air of unpretentiousness.
“Well don't you look fabulous,” Smollett-Bell said as Toussaint sauntered in wearing a white and gold embellished St. John dress, complete with a split. The Underground star, who looked stunning as well in a green Self-Portrait dress, gushed to InStyle about the evening of fellowship.
“It’s like food for my soul every time I come, because rarely do we all get to be in the same room and love on each other, and celebrate each other,” Smollett-Bell, who has attended all of the soirees but one, told us. “I think it’s so important that she started this initiative.”
The event kicked off with a cocktail reception sprinkled with pink roses, purple orchids and silver-framed photos of Oscar-winning women of color, like Dorothy Dandridge. Dawson and King opted for the French 75 signature cocktails on hand, while Woodard and Toussaint sipped Champagne.
“I am just here with open ears and open eyes,” King, said about her first time at the fete. “I am watching and I am listening to women that have been inside up and down this industry. Always an opportunity when you’re with women like this to just learn and better understand the experiences that they’ve had, and what they’ve had to go through, and how much they’ve fought to make things better.”
Before the cocktail reception wrapped up, the celeb invitees took a “class photo” and then headed down to the private dinner for a night of story sharing and conversation. “[When] all you all leave, the shoes come off and it gets deep,” Dawson told us. “It gets really personal and it gets really supportive. This is why I always wanted to have sisters. To be able to have this kind of level of communication and connection, and just like love. There’s this real love and support that’s here.”
It was Woodard’s goal to do just that with her soiree, with the actress telling us it started out as an event for women of color who had been nominated for acting Oscars and “in a perfect world those who should’ve been.” She added, “I wanted to gather the women to celebrate them, and also I felt that although the world might think they’re in competition for roles, we have more in common with each other than anybody else in the world… and it’s great to get together and talk about it and speak that common language.”