Exclusive: Lea Black Dishes on Annual Black Gala
The Real Housewife of Miami hosts and tells...
“I can deal with a lot, but I can’t deal with stupid,” Miami Housewife Lea Black boasts in the opening credits of RHOM Season 2. This certainly proved true as we saw Lea try to balance her loyalties between friends, family life, and charity.
During both seasons, The Blacks’ Annual Gala was a focal point for pot-stirring Housewife drama. In Season 1, tickets to the gala proved to be a hot commodity when former Housewife Cristy Rice sneaking in became a great point of contention for the whole group. In Season 2, it was Lea’s surprising friendship with gala guest Joe Francis that put a splinter in fellow Housewife Joanna’s side.
However, you know what they say: the Gala must go on! And despite all the drama, The Blacks’ Annual Gala continues to be an event deeply rooted in philanthropy. The Consequences Charity and Foundation is a non-profit organization, founded by Lea, on a mission to provide educational resources and experiences for at-risk youth that include scholarships, vocational training, camps, workshops and after school activities encompassing dynamic curriculums that address culture, the arts, life skills as well as workforce preparation. The organization works to support transformational learning in the form of prevention, intervention and in lieu of incarceration.
Over the years, Lea’s charity has raised more than 12 million dollars for kids in need. The Dish caught up with Lea to get the inside scoop on this year’s gala.
The Dish: How did this year’s gala differ from years past?
LB: The entertainment was far different than the past. In the past we’ve had Pitbull, Pharrell Williams and Rick Ross, Dionne Warwick, Patti LaBelle -- kind of mainstream, fabulous people. This year we had Flo Rida who was really off the charts. He put on a show like I don’t think anyone in Miami has seen in a long time. He had women up on the stage dancing; he got on the shoulders of some 10-foot guy and ran around the ballroom singing; he took his shirt off with his solid muscles and tattoos- he had the crowd crazy! And Bravo was filming it, which also made it exciting and different.
TD: What surprised you most about this year’s gala?
LB: Whi5ker5, this DJ and light guy, he put on a show that was just beyond comprehension. He had guys that were lit up with lights that looked like martians dancing around the entire ballroom with this crazy light and sound show. They looked like something from the future right out of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. The crowd just kept going and going. The party just didn’t stop! It was a more of a party crowd than some of the previous crowds.
TD: Who was the most shocking guest in attendance?
LB: I think Dennis Rodman showing up dressed as his wild, crazy self stood out of course amongst the crowd. And after his recent international rendezvous, he was certainly a topic of conversation. So, I would say he was one of the over-the-top guests.
TD: What is something that people don’t know about the gala?
LB: I don’t think anyone knows how much work goes into it. I have one person on the charity payroll year round and then we hire somebody maybe for a month or two out of the year. So, it’s basically me and one other person. And when you’re trying to accommodate between 650 and 850 people, and 100-200 auction items, and two or three major A-list performers, and keep everyone happy, and take of the seating, and get the press there and get red carpet handled. It’s overwhelming. I’d say for three months out of the year it’s a full-time job for me. It’s just a huge amount of commitment and work and effort that’s behind the scenes that people just don’t see!
TD: Last season when Joanna and Adriana got into a physical altercation at Lisa’s party, she claimed that no one would act like that at one of Lea Black’s events.
How do you respond to that?
LB: Obviously Lisa hasn’t been to all of our parties. Because one year Vince Neil was literally so bombed he couldn’t even stand up and sing and I was holding him up! We’ve had some scuffles at our events. We’ve definitely had our moments; because when people drink and they’re partying- stuff happens! So I don’t think you can take those kinds of things personally.
TD: Given the gala has been such a vanguard RHOM event, what is one thing you wish Bravo viewers could see that’s not shown on TV?
LB: I wish they could see a little bit more about the kids that we help. If they saw the kids we help, they would see why it’s important that everybody do their part. Because the kids that we help are kids that have great potential and a great heart, but they don’t have great direction and they don’t have support. Some of them are really good kids that have maybe just not made the right choice or decision for themselves. I think if they could see the impact that it has on a kid’s life when someone in the family goes to jail or when a kid gets fingerprinted, or handcuffed, or mugshot, and how it effects them the rest of their lives; I think people would be more supportive and less critical. There are always people who criticize, like "Well those kids really should be in jail," or "Those kids are trouble makers," and they don’t realize that it could be their kid too. It could be a kid that’s an amazing kid that just made a stupid mistake one day that could cost them having a record for the rest of their life. I think when people see that they’re more compassionate, forgiving and understanding about it.
TD: How do you feel now that the big night is finally over?
LB: I’ve been doing this for a long time and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that crowd have any more fun than they did this year. And, we did really well with the auction. So, I’m just hoping that the numbers add up and we can really help a lot of kids.