The lashing rain didn't keep host Jennifer Garner from the I Have a Dream Foundation Los Angeles' Dreamkeeper Awards and Gospel Brunch Sunday at the Sunset Strip House of Blues. The awards, given to
Grey's Anatomy's Sara Ramirez,
CSI: NY's Hill Harper and businessman James Berk, honored those who share the foundation's vision of a strong commitment to foster the academic development of youth all over the United States.
Garner emphasized the importance of mentorship programs for children, crediting a short list of mentors who inspired her toward her goals. "That's part of the reason why I believe in this so much. I'm definitely a product of my mentors," said Garner. "I had a school librarian, Annis McCann, who really believed in me, and my ballet teacher, Nina Denton, mentored me. I had great parents, and I had an older sister who was and is somebody I look up to. And in college, I had people who just took that extra time with me. And you know, I wasn't the straight-A, good kid. I did get distracted, and they just kind of kept... folding me back in and believed that I had something to offer."
Gabrielle Union was on hand to present the award to her longtime friend Harper. The actress, who recently debuted as Wilhelmina Slater's sister on Ugly Betty, spoke of the limbo she and her character are in due to the writers' strike. "Contractually, yes, I am supposed to do a few more episodes," said Union. "But that just happened to be the last episode that the writers wrote, so I'm as excited as the next guy to find out what happens to her, and who she is, and how the whole thing plays out. But I absolutely love being there and I'm obsessed with Vanessa Williams and the whole cast."
Upon accepting the award from his pal, Harper spoke of recently going on the road with his former Harvard classmate, Barack Obama, to promote education. Ramirez taped an acceptance speech that was broadcast for the attendees. In it, she encouraged the children to "keep on dreaming!" - Clare Kleinedler