An intimate crowd gathered with purpose at the Empire Room Saturday night for the premiere of Hollywood Domino Dallas, a black-tie affair benefiting Make-A-Wish North Texas. Although celebrity hosts Kristin Davis, Vanessa Hudgens and Jesse Metcalfe (and his main squeeze, Cara Santana) had the name recognition, 9-year-old leukemia survivor Julia Brown, the evening’s Make-A-Wish ambassador, was the real star of this show.
The evening began with the requisite red-carpet snaps and continued with cocktails and conversation. The venue was styled in a “Casablanca” theme, evoking, appropriately, the glamour of Old Hollywood. Once everyone was seated for dinner, emcee Jane McGarry made opening remarks, and Hollywood Domino founder Daya Fernandez and chairwoman Ayaan Ahmed offered sincere thanks to those who showed up to support such an important cause: granting wishes to children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
Following dinner was the live auction, where Mike Sadler from Heritage Auctions drove the bidding on such items as a trip to Seven Canyons Ranch via Starbase private jet and a pair of pink Christian Louboutin sling-backs worn by Davis during the first Sex and the City movie. “I brought pink because I thought someone in Dallas would like that,” Davis said.
Metcalfe also got onstage to solicit bids on his auction package: a chance to have lunch with him in Los Angeles. After doing a little twirl to show off the goods, he agreed to let two bidders win, thereby doubling the money raised. Hudgens did the same, giving away two meet-and-greets with her following her performance in Gigi at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
But the most memorable moments came when sweet Julia, decked out in a pink sparkly dress with matching bow on her head, joined Sadler onstage, to encourage donations to Make-A-Wish. A beaming Julia ran over to everyone who pledged — in increments as high as $10,000 — and gave them a well-deserved hug.
With Make-A-Wish’s coffers adequately filled, the party continued with more cocktails, Hollywood Domino games and entertainment. Upon departure, guests — including Kirby Schlegel, Bryana Witt, Priya and Veeral Rathod, Reese Threadgill, Jennifer Hartman, Alexis Madrid, Katherine Richardson, Logan Hefflefinger, and Heather Worley — picked up swag bags filled with Kendra Scott jewelry, Beauty Bioscience products and other goodies.
Hollywood Domino started in 2008 in LA, when Fernandez initiated a fun competition among her celebrity friends, who played a twist on the classic game with a movie reel of dominoes based on the film genre. It evolved into a star-studded event — with such celebrity attendees as Anne Hathaway, Ed Norton, Ashton Kutcher, Jon Hamm and Charlize Theron — that benefits nonprofits around the world.
Previous Hollywood Domino affairs have taken place in London, New York, Cannes Film Festival, Puerto Rico and Panama.