Wayne Simmonds

An event so monumental, I was seeing spots by the end of the evening. Kleo was on double duty.”

*The setting for the momentous occasion was the beautiful Staples Arena Club located in the Staples Center that overlooks the entire public seating area that seats thousands and thousands of sports aficionados.

There in this private VIP area of the massive stadium celebrities and dignitaries poured in to witness Canadian-African, 21 year old Wayne Simmons number 17 of the LA Kings Hockey team  receive numerous honors from city officials and support from Hollywood celebrities.

Positioned outside of the Staples, Radio Free 102.3 KJLH was broadcasting the event live to their listeners in the chilly 41 degrees LA winter night. However, when you are a true sports fan cold weather does not affect you. The excitement and passion for the game is fuel enough to raise body temperture.

I was posted outside for a spell to facilitate celebrity guests into the event. The first to arrive was veteran actor Roger E. Mosley of Magnum PI fame with his lovely wife Toni Laudermilk. I couldn’t stop laughing to see Roger ready for action wearing his black leather hockey jacket. He exclaimed that he was a hockey fan and more interested in seeing the game than being photographed. Marc Gaspard of KJLH made sure he had VIP seats and it was bye bye to Roger and Tony till later, at which time, I proceeded inside to scope the area to set up for the paps and videogs. I did make a  pit stop to a private-private reception room for dignitaries where a petite buffet of veggies and chicken were inviting, but I passed. I was officially at work.

Jesse Jackson, Wayne Simmonds and Willie O'Ree. A great moment in history. (Photo: Vinni Ratcliff)

Inside the Arena Club where the festivities were to take place, the banner was being set and media were setting up their video cams and charging their batteries ready to pop and shoot the highly anticipated  heavy celebrity traffic. However, the game tied and went into overtime. The vibe was electric as the crowd would cheer passionately for their team. The cheers were so loud and thunderous they could have blown the roof of the house.  

You could not miss the action as monitors were posted everywhere. During this wait period, celebrities continued to pour in and become captivated by the game.

Beautiful Florence LaRue became absorbed as well as music producer Ollie E. Brown, actor Ernest Thomas and  soul singer Brenda Lee Eager. The numbers were building in the arena club and within the hour, it became a cheering squad for the LA Kings favorite and young man of the hour Canadian born Wayne Simmonds. I was excited too. I hadn’t been to a hockey game since I lived in Boston and use to cheer for the Boston Bruins.

Roger E. Mosley came ready for Hockey, while Florence gives a warm smile and radiates a sweet disposition. Trueful, newcomer to biz just takes it all in. (Photo: Vinni Ratcliff)

I was then taken to the private, private waiting area where Rev Jesse Jackson was posted. However, I couldn’t dilly dally there with so much work to do in the main media area. I was busy, busy, making sure all the press had their materials and that celebs were comfy.

Then the defining moment came,game over…let the glitz & glamour begin. Lights, cameras action, step and repeat commenced, first up// Pop R&B Singer Trueful to warm up the cameras and serve as a tech for others to follow. From then on, it was going to be non-stop for over an hour. There on the red carpet line, I announced everyone including  Kathleen Bradley (1st African American Model on a prime time game show “The Price is Right). I was reminded of the fact that Lil’ Wayne had penned  a song in honor of her character in the film Friday called “Mrs. Parker.” On this night Kathleen aka “Mrs. Parker” was showing off that she was a good sport to show up wearing a bandage wrap around her arm from a recent injury. A little glitter, a little gloss and a little razza matazz and Kathleen bust some moves that made her a legendary “Barker’s Beauty.”  Let son Terrance Redd was there to show mom love and support and an emergency hand.

Former Barker's Beauty (The Price is Right) Kathleen Bradley (Photo: Vinni Ratcliff)

These days when we think of New York we think of Jay-Z or P.Diddy, but at the Arena Club, Miss Apollo, princess of Harlem was in the spotlight and I’m talkng about the one and only beatiful TV hostess and great humanitarian  Ms. Kiki Shepard.

Ernest Thomas was next raising his hands in the air making a dramatic Scarface stance ready for a “World is mine” photo opp. Dashing singer Andre Petrie was in the house looking like he had raised a few bar bells before coming but oh, oh, there was competition in sight with the likes of celebrity fitness trainer Sam Bell, who was then over shadowed by radio personality, voice over actor Jason “Six-Nine” Barnes. This guy looked like he could be in the NBA. He was a towering giant of a man.

The voice of an angel was about three arms length from where I was standng but I could barely see the top of soul singer dimunutive Brenda Lee Eagers head. This petite diva possesses a big soulful sound for one so little. She actually worked with Rev. Jesse Jackson in the early days supporting Operation Push.  The lovely Kyla Pratt surprised everyone but she had no bigger fan in the house than R&B singer Trueful who inspite of the fact that photogs were trying to take a photo of him and Rev. Jackson, he was interested in a photo opp with the lovely  Miss Pratt (LOL). Well, he got both photo shots one with the reverend and the other with Miss Pratt.

Debonair Pop singer Tionne Williams who arrived a wee late showed up camera ready in a muted shade of lavendar sweater, eggplant colored knit scarf tied around his neck and wearing  casual charcoal black pants with big bold manly man jewelry on his wrist. He was a fashionisto. Looked like he just dropped in from  Rodeo Drive in BH 90210.  Tionne is always a media favorite for his smouldering good looks and sexy charm. Soon many of the ladies such as Kyla and Kiki were posing with this one. Not to be upstaged Joe Torry entered the step and repeat arena pressed to the nines suited in crisp black with a matching black fedora. He was lean, tight and ready for a Jet centerfold shot. In between time, I heard someone calling my name and I looked to see who the lady was, it was long-time industry colleague Kathleen Williamson Editor of Our Weekly and her beautiful daughter and colleague Karlyn Webb. I took a quick ½ minute break for a hug and bisou bisou and it was back on the carpet again announcing Hall of Famer Eric Davis who made the photogs go wild followed by music producer turned realtor to the stars Ollie E. Brown. Ollie knows how to make deals, whether in music or selling mansions.

Celebrity view from the private Staples Arena Club looking down at the game and thousands of spectators. Awesome! (Photo Courtesy of Larry Davidson)

Gorgeous blue-grass singer Sharyn Lee arrived with her hubby Ernest. SharynLee is a legendary beauty. She is a rare bird being among an elite group of Country Western singers of color. She arrived looking like a panther in a tannish beige fur coat and and black leather laced boots. Her hair colored a golden brown matched her wardrobe to perfection. SharynLee looked like a gorgeous feline that made the guys want to pounce. Actor, Steven Williams was also there looking dapper as ever but keeping a low profile. He was later spotted taking in the haps on one of the terraces. Pesonality Cossandra Calloway took a sassy little stroll on the carpet and posed for pics. She reminds me of  the bold and daring “Cougar Crunch,” Vivca A. Fox. Then the carpet cleared for world leader, humanitarian, (I call him the “Champion of the People”), the indomitable, undeniably,  blessed leader of leaders, the Reverend Jesse Jackson. At this point all trigger happy photographers competed with each other to see who was the fastest on the draw in Hollwyood. Good and plenty action went into overdrive on this one and deservedly so. I didn’t know who to place my dollar bet on.  People were literally running up to Rev. Jackson for a shot, autograph or interview whatever. Mania was about to set in but saved by the bell, before things got out of  hand, the moment that we all had been waiting for came. LA Kings Hockey rep came down and announced that

Wayne Simmonds was in the room and at that point everyone had to strike their video cams and move to the center of the Staples Arena Club. I never saw people strike a set so quickly. Paps had to be warned stand behind a certain demarcation line. They could not get enough of handsome, shy and soft-spoken Wayne Simmonds.  I  think the whole flurry of media action came as a huge surprise to many. At this point the dignitaries and city officials took over presenting him with one cerfiticate after another. In between time, Staples officials and LA Kings reps would speak. Rev. Jesse Jackson offered words like a good preacher. I was ready for church. Everyone stood in awe at his greatness and eloquence.  Historic hockey figure Willie O’Ree was present and received honors also and rightly so. After all he came first (take time to google this champion). Standing about 4’11 or so Willie spoke a bit about his career and rise in the hockey sport. Willie O’Ree is a legend. I was truly awe-inspired by so many legends, 1st time in their fields great achievers standing in the same room I was in.

Then it was time for more photo opps. The press literally ran after Simmonds into another private area of the Staples Arena Club, following him and cornering him for interviews. It was funny to see all the equipment go flying in the air. I wish I had a picture of that.  Finally Simmonds escorts and body guards whisked him away with photogs tagging behind trying to capture that one last historic shot. Click, click.

Whew, what a night, at that point, one of my eyes went blurry and I was seeing spots. I had to sit down. A photog friend brought water immediately. What a whirlwind. Whew!  I had a good work out on this night my friends. But before the bell sounded, I was up again getting my kicks. Kleo was doing double duty.

This report is not just  another Kleopatra Ringside Report attending someone else’s event, this one was one I handled publicity for in conjunction with Marc Gaspard, Roland Wirt, Artris Leftage of Beverly Hills Live, The LA Sentinel, Radio Free 102.3 KJLH and the LA Kings Hockey Club.   Thank goodness for “thank you’s” as I was still standing to hear…”And we thank Eugenia Wright of ISA PR.” I have to admit, I felt full of pride. Yay!!!! for the hometeam. Mission accomplished.

If the news from tonight’s event spreads far and wide, I hope it will encourage young African-American boys… and girls (why not, eh, ) interested in hockey to pursue their dream of becoming an NHL player  because it can be realized as in the case of

LA Kings hockey player Wayne Simmonds.

Congrats to Wayne Simmonds, you have made your mark Continued success. Congrats to Willie O’Ree for being a first. God bless you Willie!!!!

For statistics and biography of 21 year old Wayne Simmonds, log on to

To see the event, log on here: Wire Image

Interview with Jesse Jackson from the event here:

Eugenia Wright is a former actress turned syndicated columnist/publicist. Eugenia Wright served as publicist for this event. You may write to her at [email protected]  / www.isapublicrelations.com