Who better than actress Lisa Kudrow could there be to host the Open Mind Gala? From her perch on the podium at the Beverly Hilton, she jokingly reminded the audience of her "impressive contributions to the field of mental health," having co-created and starred in Showtime's "Web Therapy."
Sponsored by Friends of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital Board of Advisors, the March 22 affair benefited UCLA's mental health research, education and clinical care treatment.
"My contribution goes beyond that even," continued the iconic "Friends" actress. "I played a self-centered, insensitive, impatient and judgmental therapist who was un-credentialed, and she offered three-minute Skype sessions to whoever could pay the $25." Then Kudrow added, "We created this show in 2008 and we were making it up because that truly did not exist. But it exists now, and you're welcome."
The honorees: The gala honored recording superstar and outspoken mental health advocate Demi Lovato; Dr. Kelsey Martin, dean of UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine; and Julia S. Gouw, former president and chief operating officer of East West Bank, in memory of Dr. Lori Altshuler.
Quotes of note: Said Lovato on accepting her award, "We live in a world where millions [of dollars] are spent on physical health and appearance, but yet mental health and well-being, which are the most important factors in keeping all of us moving forward and something that should be given the same level of care and attention as physical health, get ignored and pushed to the side time and time again.
"I know we would all love to look in the mirror and love to see what we see," the singer continued. "Sometimes I struggle on a daily basis to see that but I know that when I look inside my mind, I know that I'm happy with where I'm at, and that's the most important thing we need to remember in this world."
The show: Yashi Brown kicked off festivities with a poem, which ended as the words "It's OK to Be You" flashed on a bright red screen behind her. Then at evening's end, singer/songwriter Chord Overstreet of "Glee" fame, who opened for Lovato's 2016 Future Now Tour, performed the song "Homeland" followed by his new single, "Hold On."
The crowd: Among those attending were Dan Bucatinsky of "Scandal," Courteney Cox of "Friends," Diane Keaton of "The Young Pope," Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton, Jane Semel, Friends of Semel founder/president Vicky Goodman, Resnick hospital board founding chair Nancy Glaser and event co-chairs Margot Calabrese, Alexandra Dwek, Beth Karmin and Dana Pachulski.
The numbers: More than 500 guests bought tickets, beginning at $600, or tables, running up to $100,000 for two-table sponsorship packages. Together with additional contributions, the event raised more than $900,000.
Ellen Olivier is the founder of Society News LA.