On a day to day basis, event professionals wear many hats. Experienced event producers must be skilled in communication, organization, attention to detail, multi-tasking, taking exact measurements, and last but not least, branding. Often times, clients will request a branded activation. This includes printed materials branded with their company logo, which are strategically placed on site at the event. AOO Event’s senior producer Jimmy Surace recently produced a branded activation for one of our clients. We caught up with him to discuss the producer’s responsibility when branding an event.

AOO Events

AOO Events

A recent branded event produced by AOO’s Jimmy Surace

First things first, it’s important to get a vector file of the client’s logo. “It’s important to get a vector file of the logo directly from the client in order to be one hundred percent sure it’s the correct logo. Understandably so, clients are very sensitive about logos including colors and competitor colors or logos,” says Surace.

Once the producer obtains the logo as a vector file, most times it has already been decided where the logo will be placed throughout the event. For this event, the client wanted to create a donut wall that would represent their brand in a fun, interactive way. Here is a quick look at how the wall came together with our warehouse operations representative Jose:

Here is what the activation looked like on site:
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AOO Events

“We have an experienced team here at AOO, so once we obtain the dimensions of the logo and the vector file, I usually pass it along to our production team who then bring all the elements to life,” says Surace. To avoid over the top promotion at the event, Surace worked closely with the client’s marketing team to ensure the logo would be displayed effectively while remaining inconspicuous. “Simple touches can sometimes go a longer way than being completely in your face.”

For this event, Surace succeeded in giving the event a subtle decorative effect. Here are more shots from the recent branded activation:

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To schedule a consultation with AOO Events, email us at info@aooevents.com.

Photos via Jon Almero. All rights reserved.

Kelly 2 (853x1280)by AOO Events senior producer Kelly Melo





Technical event production is a big job that requires a high-level of expertise. The best thing that you can do for yourself, your client, and your program is to hire a seasoned Technical Director to help you design and execute the technical plan. However, it is good to understand the technical needs of your program so that you can work alongside your TD to produce a flawless show. Here’s a few basic tips to tackling tech:

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A recent layout generated from a CAD drawing.

• CAD – The first step of technical production is obtaining an accurate, scaled drawing of your venue so that you can create a layout. CAD files commonly have .dwg or .dfx file extensions and you (or your TD) will need an AutoCAD program to open these files. The info contained in the CAD file will have all measurements of the room and should also include a rig plot, indicating any hang points in the ceiling. It is common for venues to submit PDF files in response to a CAD request so it is helpful to specify the file extension with your request.

• Technical Design – After you have gained an understanding of the space that you are working with and the hang point locations/loads, your TD can help to lay out the space, indicating placement of the stage, scenic, drape lines, screens, projectors, cameras, lights, speakers, FOH, backstage positions, truss grid, and cable runs. The technical design of the show should be carefully planned and the program flow should also be considered so that you have ample equipment and the correct boards and switchers to meet your needs. If you are planning on a headliner, remember that they generally have very specific equipment requests and backline needs. The more accurate that you can be with your design, the easier it will be to create a realistic budget, so include your TD early in the conversation!

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A show flow rehearsal

• Content Management – Managing all of the content that will be utilized in show is best done by one individual to avoid confusion. Don’t underestimate the importance of this position; managing file versions, aspect ratios, file sizes, resolution, and file names is a big job when you have a show that is content-heavy. Two tips on content management:
o It is helpful to name your files consistent with their reference in show. Ie… A file named “marketing video” is confusing to playback when it is referred to as “Bob’s video” in the show flow.
o Avoid using the word “final” in your file names. You may find that you end up revising that file after you think it’s final. Version numbers in file names eliminate this confusion.

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Team AOO Events during a technical cue-to-cue

• Communication – The key to any successful program is communication and so it is imperative that the details of your program are distributed and discussed prior to your event. A few key documents to include with your emails are the following:
o Production schedule – Every detail of the program from load-in through strike, timed to the minute. All pertinent information should be discussed with technical leads prior to finalizing and remember to include things like call time, crew breaks, onsite meetings, rehearsals, etc..
o Show flow – The live portion of your event, timed to the second and including every detail and cue for staging, lighting, audio, video, and talent.
o Layout – The map to your event – it should include all tables, chairs, stages, camera positions, FOH position, anything on the floor and anything that is rigged. Don’t be afraid to include dimensions on those layouts for things like stages, walkways, egress, etc..– details benefit everybody involved!
o Stage Render – Artistic drawing of the stage scenic, indicating placement of all décor, screens, furniture, and podiums.

• Paper Tech – The “who/what/when/where/how” meeting onsite. Paper tech is dedicated time onsite with all team members involved with show. This meeting is led by your Show Director and the time is used walking through every cue of the show to discuss transitions, lighting, audio needs videos, camera shots, scenic movement, and backstage management. Scheduling ample time for your paper tech will save you time in rehearsals and will help your crew deliver a flawless show. The paper tech should be followed by a technical cue-to-cue, which is when the entire production team, including sound and lighting rehearse each technical cue, in order to fine tune the production prior to receiving clients for onsite rehearsals. Keeping everybody on the same page will help you deliver a tight show … Now, go break a leg!

To schedule a consultation with AOO Events, email us at info@aooevents.com.

Rheana Coon has been in the hospitality industry since the age of 15 when she took an after-school job at a local flower shop.

Rheana’s experience as a young floral designer sparked a lifetime of passion for special event production, which was then stoked by a position at the Bellagio Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. This is where she honed her craft in wedding and event floral design by working for royalty, celebrities and VIP clients.

In 2008 , she returned to her hometown of San Diego, as lead designer of the event design firm, White Lotus Productions. Two years later, she purchased the company and grew White Lotus into an award winning event company.

In 2016, Rheana moved to Las Vegas, where she joined the AOO Events team full-time as a senior sales executive and event designer. We recently caught up with Rheana to learn a little more about her love for the special events industry.

Rheana Coon

How did you get started in the special events industry?

I grew up in the events Industry, my father was a caterer and use to make me glitter his tables and buffets in the late 80s and early 90s! I was the “glitter girl”! I started working in a flower shop in High School and fell in love with flowers

What is your favorite sports team?

I grew up in San Diego, so I’m a Padres girl for life!

Favorite museum In Vegas?

I’m still pretty new to Vegas, but I’m dying to check out the Mob museum and the Neon sign museum!

Rooftop pool or indoor pool?

Roof top with good music and a book please.

What is your favorite brunch spot in Vegas?

DW Bistro.

Favorite cocktail trend of all time?

A good spicy margarita is a weakness of mine. Otherwise, I’m a simple vodka soda girl.

What is your favorite annual event in Vegas?

AFAN! Aid for Aids of Nevada throws a black and white party every year to raise money. The black and white outfits and costumes are to die for. It’s a really fun event!

What destination would you recommend for a nearby staycation?

Most locals want to get away from the Las Vegas strip, I LOVE the spa at Green Valley Ranch. It’s my happy place. The M resort or Red Rock Resort are great too!

What is your favorite venue in Vegas?

So far, Springs preserve. It’s just this little slice of outdoor heaven that you would never picture in Las Vegas. It beautiful! I really want to do an event at the Container Park, I just love the creativity and uniqueness of that area.

If you could work on any special event in the world, which one would it be and why?

Any of the Dior fashion show sets. The environments they create for the Fashion shows are insane and always blow my mind. I stalk them on Instagram, the creativity is beautiful.

To schedule a consultation with AOO Events, email us at info@aooevents.com.

Meet AOO Events’ Senior Producer Kelly Melo!

Kelly Melo is a logistics powerhouse, capable of managing and executing multiple projects with extreme precision. As Senior Producer, Kelly lends her expertise to the team at AOO Events Inc., where planning events from concept to execution is her specialty.

Over the last 19 years, Kelly has been involved with a wide variety of clients and projects working in both corporate and social event production. Kelly takes the time to understand her client’s culture and their message. She works alongside them to deliver an experience that is beyond expectation, whether it is an intimate social event or a large corporate meeting.

Kelly earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, concentration in Management, from California State University, Los Angeles. She also graduated with honors from Loyola Marymount University with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, concentration in Marketing. Kelly’s business acumen and love for the event industry provide a solid foundation upon which to extend her talents in the realm of experiential event design and production.

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We recently caught up with Kelly to ask our signature Ten Questions and we’re thrilled to share her answers here:

 How did you get started in the special events industry?
It was totally accidental. My first job out of high school was a coordinator position with a non-profit organization, planning all of their fundraising events. From there, I went to corporate event planning and then made my way into production.

 What is your favorite sports team in LA?
Dodgers for life!

Favorite museum in LA?

Rooftop pool or indoor pool?
Rooftop with a cabana and a cocktail, please!

What is your favorite brunch spot in LA?
The Local Peasant with it’s glorious Bloody Mary bar.

Favorite cocktail trend of all time?
I’m a simple cocktail gal.. Hangar 1 vodka with soda & lemon.

What is your favorite annual event in LA?
LA Vegan Beer Festival – I can eat whatever I want at that one!

What destination would you recommend for a nearby staycation?
I love Santa Monica. There’s a ton of shopping, great restaurants, and the bike path is endless.

What is your favorite venue in LA?
The Edison is one of my favorites. It is non-descript from the outside and industrial & funky on the inside. It has an amazing vibe and versatility. Oh, and the best absinthe you will ever taste!

If you could work on any special event in the world, which one would it be and why?
Hands down… The Super Bowl Halftime Show. It has always amazed me that this exceptional team is capable of assembling and disassembling such a massive performance area in such a short amount of time. There’s a special place in my heart for logistics and this event is the holy grail!

Contact us at info@aooevents.com.for your next special event.

Meet AOO Floral‘s Jason Vorse!

Known for groundbreaking sculptural designs that he describes as “modern with a romantic edge,” AOO Floral’s lead designer Jason Vorse infuses his work with a deep knowledge of horticulture and plant physiology.  He studied Floral Mechanics and Design Elements at the Seattle Floral Design Institute before moving to Los Angeles where he quickly established himself within the industry. His educational background, coupled with his artistic approach, has set him apart in the floral design world.

Vorse has created floral designs for numerous celebrity events, and his innovative work has graced many magazine covers around the world. His creations have been spotlighted on MTV International, in Glamour Magazine, and during Fashion Week. Vorse’s work was featured in the Spring/Summer 2009 Runway Show for Fashion Designer Sue Wong.  He has also garnered an international reputation, creating floral designs for the royal families of Thailand and England.

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Vorse seen here with his design assistant and AOO employee Chance.

Vorse has dedicated his life to floral artistry and design. We recently caught up with Vorse to ask him our signature 10 Questions. Get a glimpse into his fun, creative personality here!

How did you get started in the special events industry?

I studied horticulture in college after finding my passion in gardening and landscape in my personal life. I then went on to study interior design and a bit of fashion. I later moved on to floral design and plant physiology. At this point I combined my knowledge of plants and the design together and entered into the floral event and fashion world bulding living structures, floral fashion and headpieces and furthering into event floral. Luxury floral with a signature twist.

 What is your favorite place to go shopping in LA?

Probably Sunset Nursery.

Favorite museum in LA?

The Broad. I was first introduced to the Broad family nearly 15 years ago. I designed events for their private residence and was exposed to their personal art inventory and was blown away. Now to see their contribution and collaboration at the broad is beyond inspiring.


Vorse was quite the team player at a recent team building six mile run in Castaic Lakes, CA.

Rooftop pool or indoor pool?

I spend enough time at hotel locations, I tend to flock to personal residence’s for swim time in lieu.

What is your favorite brunch spot in LA?

 Oh I have so many. On my off time I tend to stay local in the Silver Lake area. My partner and I often hit Mohawk Bend (which is a great eatery that is a transformed performance art theater) or Barix for the easy flowing Mimosas.

Favorite cocktail trend of all time?

Work hard, play hard. A straight up vodka martini with a twist does me just fine. The key to this drink is to whisk the glass with a sweet vermouth.

What is your favorite annual event in LA?

Hands down it’s the Red Dress event in West Hollywood, which is an annual fundraiser for HIV/Aids research and support.

What destination would you recommend for a nearby stay-cation?

Just get me to Joshua Tree and /or Palm springs and I’m great. This half speed mentality does the body good.

What is your favorite venue in LA?

So many… Vibiana gives me many inspiring thoughts. They just start flowing. So many creative ways to utilize this space. I hope I get the opportunity this year to share these ideas.

 If you could work on any special event in the world, which one would it be and why?

 I’m going to be totally honest. I’m planning my own wedding this year and very excited to design this according to our vision. You plan things in your head for years thinking exactly how you want to see it. Now bringing these combined plans into fruition is beyond exciting and inspiring.

To schedule a consultation with Jason email AOO Events at info@aooevents.com

This past Sunday April 10th, the team at AOO Events joined forces to participate in a six mile mud run at Castaic Lake. The Down and Dirty marathon included over 20 obstacles, which highlighted the team building aspects of the run through collaboration, support and working together. The team completed the course in a little over two hours, feeling refreshed and connected after the event. According to our CEO David Merrell, “It was a pleasure to see the team having so much fun. They really worked together to complete an impressive obstacle course and I could not be prouder of each and every one of them.”

Here are a few highlights from the event.


No nerves here, the team is ready for six miles of fun.


Business Development rep Kali Madden representing her “hometown” of Jamaica.


Lead floral designer Jason Vorse with senior producer Jaka Jaiteh.


AOO Events COO Mark Sheldon stretching before the six mile course.


Ready, set, run.



Jason diving head first into the mud.


This would explain why Jason was the muddiest of them all.


Kali crossing the finish line.


Elias crossing the finish line with Jason and Erick Badillo closely behind.


Rubin crossing the finish line.


Mark and Jaka coming in strong.


Teamwork makes the dream work!


Teamwork! Everyone came into work feeling refreshed and ready to take on a new week of events.

For more information on AOO Events contact us at info@aooevents.com



Behind every major event production is a great stage designer, a great team and a whole lot of teamwork. Once an event has been given the green light, AOO Events CEO David Merrell is usually the first point of contact for initiating design plans. For this recent event, the client knew they wanted to do something different, but wasn’t sure how it would all come together. Merrell decided he would create something new and original that would not only be feasible for the production team but also meet the creative needs of the client.

The next step was to brainstorm with AOO Events production manager Erick Badillo. “Before David starts the design process he comes to me and asks if it is possible for a certain idea to be constructed. Before we reach out to the client with a drawing, I tell the designer who in this case is David if it is possible or not,” said Badillo. Once the design is decided upon and the production team approves it, the idea is then turned back over to the client for final acceptance.

custom stage build

For this event the stage dimensions were 24′ W x 11′ H. There were a few challenges in creating the arch at the top of the stage. “It looked so simple but there were a few complications in getting the arch where it needed to be,” said Badillo. “The other challenge is that it was originally drawn to be at a trim height of 14′ and when we found out the space we realized the peak of the tent was 16′ and there was a tent liner inside of the tent, which dropped the height by two feet so we had to redesign and bring it down a little bit,” said Merrell. “We also had to modify the chandeliers to make sure the aesthetic of the stage would be in line with the needs of the client,” said Badillo.

The material Badillo decided on for this design was Luan wood with a red mahogany stain. In a little over two weeks Badillo and his team finalized constructing the stage for this event. To transport the stage from the warehouse to the event, the production team broke everything down so as to be as compact and light as possible. “It was in four sections, the uprights were in 6′ tall by 4′ wide panels, once we got to the location the first thing that we worked on was unloading the stage.” The next step was to do a truss and attach the stage settings to make sure the truss was as inconspicuous as possible. Once everything was situated, the team attached both chandeliers for the finishing touch.

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According to Badillo, “It was fun building this stage, there were minor challenges but David allowed me to lead the charge and we made it happen. The client was ecstatic and we were very happy they were happy.” As always with the AOO Events team, teamwork really does make the dream work.

View more photos from this event here:

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Guests were treated to an outdoor cocktail hour before the event started later in the evening.

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Our custom back bar with floral and decor accents.

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We were thrilled the client was happy with the final product of the stage’s design.

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custom stage design

AOO Floral created custom arrangements to complete the table-scape.

Interested in custom stage design for your next event? Contact us at info@aooevents.com. 


Everyone in special events has that one moment that ignited their passion for the event world … this is Jimmy’s: In 6th grade each student was given an ‘egg baby’ to keep alive and safe for a month. Any crack in the egg resulted in failing the project. The health teacher gave Jimmy his egg and almost immediately he dropped it and it shattered. Instead of claiming defeat, Jimmy decided to plan a funeral for his ‘egg baby.’ Pulling from his creative mind he developed a celebration of life for his lost egg baby from programs, floral designs, memento pictures, and last but not least involving the student choir to perform at the service. The result, a first ever ‘A’ given to a cracked egg parent. At this moment Jimmy knew he had the passion and drive for event production.

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Hailing from the great state of Ohio, Jimmy moved westward after graduating from Bowling Green State with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and minor in Journalism. He took his first professional leap into the world of special events working in the production department at DreamWorks Animation, focusing on production coordination and in-house events. Jimmy took his skills to the open sea working for Atlantis Events, planning charter cruises and resort takeovers around the globe. He worked as a member of the opening management team for Shore Hotel in Santa Monica before refocusing on event design with AOO Events in Los Angeles. Ever one to expand his craft Jimmy worked with a leading DMC on corporate events before returning to the AOO Events team focusing on event production and design.

Jimmy recently answered our signature Ten Questions, which has given us clarity in getting to know more about his exuberant, fun and hardworking personality.

How did you get started in the special events industry?
I was asked at a circuit party if I ever would be interested in working in events… I said, duh! I interviewed that week and the rest was history.

What is your favorite sports team in LA?
UCLA gymnastics- does that count?

Favorite museum in LA?
Getty- We are all priceless pieces of art… someone told me that and I ran with it.

Rooftop pool or indoor pool?

What is your favorite brunch spot in LA?

Favorite cocktail trend of all time?
Xanax? Kidding 😉 Changing up the glassware and being eclectic. Honey, it’s all about presentation.

What is your favorite annual event in LA?
GAY PRIDE (bro) !!!!

What destination would you recommend for a nearby staycation?
Rent a house with a pool in palm springs… sooooo peaceful. And you can actually see the stars (in the sky).

What is your favorite venue in LA?
Paramount backlot. I’m a sucker for a movie set.

If you could work on any special event in the world, which one would it be and why?
Any Kardashian celebration. I feel there would be no limit to the level of ridiculousness… or glitter. More is more 😉


Brandis Protenic is our newest addition to Team AOO Events. Born in Newport Beach, and raised in the west Texas town of El Paso, Brandis returned to Southern California to pursue a culinary career. When she quickly realized her love of food and beauty regimen didn’t quite translate to 4:00 AM bakery wake-up calls she took her passion to a new direction in special events where she found a home for the last 15 years. An even split of left-brain and right-brain Brandis brings both creative and keen logistics planning to her events. Having worked in hotel conference services and program development in the DMC sector Brandis brings well rounded knowledge corporate and social events paired with superior customer service as the Director of Business Development for AOO Events.

Brandis recently answered our signature ten questions, which gives us a wealth of insight into her fun, creative personality.

How did you get started in the special events industry?

As a young girl I always dreamed of being a chef. When I realized 4AM bakery calls and hot kitchens didn’t work with my daily make-up routine, I transitioned into front of house working my way through restaurants and hotels and thus my passion for customer service erupted. Special events gives my part creative and part type-A control-freak personality the perfect balance.

What is your favorite sports team in LA?

Dodgers, Bruins and Lakers in that order.

Favorite museum in LA?

The Getty museum will always be a favorite but the new Broad museum downtown is a close second.

Rooftop pool or indoor pool?

Rooftop pool how else can I work on my tan and take in the City of Angels.

What is your favorite brunch spot in LA?

Cecconi’s Brunch in West Hollywood. The porchetta ham benedict hits the spot after a long weekend.

Favorite cocktail trend of all time?

A fan of all things vodka I’m obsessed with Moscow mules plus the copper mug is a great accessory to any outfit.

What is your favorite annual event in LA?

Awards Season in spring.

What destination would you recommend for a nearby staycation?

I love the desert heat so a quick skip over to Palm Springs is perfection to me. I love renting an AirBNB house with pool so my friends and I can relax poolside all day. Then at night head into town for dinner and walk the Thursday night farmers market for local art work.

What is your favorite venue in LA?

I love the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. Tudor architecture, amazing city views, sprawling gardens and a storied history of mystery and scandal.

If you could work on any special event in the world, which one would it be and why?

Carnival in Brazil. Who could say no to a week long party filled with over the top costumes, music and celebrations.

American film, stage and television actress Alfre Woodard began hosting an annual industry dinner for African American, and women of color in film over five years ago. The dinners began after Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson were both nominated for an Academy Award and Woodard saw an opportunity to provide support for her fellow female actresses. Past attendees include: Oprah, Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington, Zoe Saldana, Ava Duvernay and many other talented actresses.

Alfre Woodard’s 2015 Oscar’s Sistahs Soiree

AOO Events CEO David Merrell and film director Ava DuVernay at Alfre Woodard’s 2015 Oscar’s Sistahs Soiree

This year, AOO Events is honored to design and produce this event for the second time at the London Hotel in West Hollywood. Expected guests include Aisha Tyler, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lorraine Toussaint, Viola Davis, Rosario Dawson and more. Alfre’s invite also serves as her official statement of support as she reminds invitees to come prepared to have “a rollicking good time supporting each other.”

According to AOO’s lead floral designer, Jason Vorse, last year’s design objective was influenced by Woodard’s favorite colors, her style and the need to create an atmosphere that would give the women an opportunity to openly converse throughout dinner. “We took the old school glamour of Hollywood and did Kings tables with mirrored tops, silk linens, orchids and lush greenery to stay as close to Woodard’s favorite elements as possible,” said Vorse.

As AOO Events gears up for the 88th annual Academy Awards, we are looking forward to creating another evening filled with magic for Woodard and her colleagues.

Here are some photos from Woodard’s 2015 Oscars Sistahs Soiree at The Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The event was sponsored by White Diamond Lustre, Elizabeth Taylor and Piper-Heidseick, with car service provided by Audi.

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Tablescape by AOO Floral from 2015’s Alfre Woodard Sistahs Soiree

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David Merrell with actress Roasrio Dawson

Honorees Ava DuVernay and Gugu Mbatha-Raw attend Alfre Woodard’s 2015 Oscar’s Sistahs Soirée sponsored by White Diamond Lustre, Elizabeth Taylor and Piper-Heidseick. Event Design by AOO Events and transportation provided by Audi, at the Beverly Wilshire on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 in Los Angeles.(Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision for Alfre Woodard/AP Images)

Honorees Ava DuVernay and Gugu Mbatha-Raw a

Atmosphere at Alfre Woodard’s 2015 Oscar’s Sistahs Soirée sponsored by White Diamond Lustre, Elizabeth Taylor and Piper-Heidseick. Event Design by AOO Events and transportation provided by Audi, at the Beverly Wilshire on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 in Los Angeles.(Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision for Alfre Woodard/AP Images)

Atmosphere at Alfre Woodard’s 2015 Oscar’s Sistahs Soirée sponsored by White Diamond Lustre, Elizabeth Taylor and Piper-Heidseick. Event Design by AOO Events and transportation provided by Audi, at the Beverly Wilshire on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 in Los Angeles.(Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision for Alfre Woodard/AP Images)

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A group shot of attendees from Alfre Woodard’s 2015 Oscars Sistahs Soiree

Photos by Todd Williamson/Invision for Alfre Woodard/AP Images.