Celebrity Alert

Family Place lures A-list actress to speak at milestone awards luncheon in Dallas

Vital Dallas nonprofit lures A-list actress to milestone luncheon

Marisa Tomei, art of film
Marisa Tomei is the keynote speaker at the 20th anniversary Texas Trailblazer Award Luncheon benefiting the Family Place. Photo by John ‘Doc’ Strange

What does a Dallas nonprofit do when celebrating the 20th anniversary of a major fundraising event? Brings in a celebrity speaker, of course. And so it goes for the Family Place, which is luring Marisa Tomei to the podium for the Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon, set for October 1 at the Hilton Anatole.

Tomei, who returns to Dallas after her last-minute appearance at the Art of Film last November,  is best known for her Academy Award-winning role as Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny, as well as notable performances in In the Bedroom and The Wrestler. She’s also an accomplished stage actress.

But it’s fun to see how Tomei is connected to this luncheon, which is a critical fundraiser for the organization dedicated to eradicating family violence in North Texas through intervention and proactive prevention, extensive community education, advocacy, and assistance for victims and their families.

Tomei’s directorial debut was a short film based on Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book Half the Sky. The film focuses on a 13-year-old girl’s struggle with the institutionalized oppression of women in Ethiopia. WuDunn, an author, journalist and TED speaker, was the Texas Trailblazer Award winner in 2011.

For the October 1 event, Tomei will make a presentation and also have a conversation with the luncheon’s moderator.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Texas Trailblazer Award, which recognizes Texas’ most outstanding leaders. At the luncheon, the Family Place honors a member from the community who has achieved significant success despite obstacles. The trailblazer is someone who has accomplished a “first” and opened the doors of opportunity for other people and made significant contributions either in their community, business or profession.

Other honors presented on October 1 include the Advocacy Award, Real-Life Hero Award, and Youth Service Award and Scholarship (Be Project Scholarship).

The 2015 luncheon is co-chaired by Michaela Dyer and Layne Pitzer. Tickets start at $175 and can be purchased online now.

In 37 years, the Family Place has counseled more than 225,000 clients; provided lifesaving shelter to more than 22,000 women, children and men; and answered more than 550,000 calls for help. The Family Place also has helped more than 20,000 batterers learn how to change their abusive behavior, and its youth program, Be Project, reaches approximately 6,000 students each year through our youth education programs.