Giving young actors a break

Thursday evening's fundraiser for Glendale-based HOPE4Children Foundation had most of the elements of a Hollywood red-carpet affair.

Performers lined up to have their pictures taken and be interviewed. The click of camera shutters could be heard as industry professionals and performers shook hands with one another and filed into the auditorium of the Scientology Celebrity Centre in Hollywood.

The event featured a silent auction and performances by artists Kasey Iaeger and Cynthia Manley, former lead singer of '80s group Boys Town Gang.

Funds raised from the benefit went to support the foundation, which provides mentoring to young people looking to break into the entertainment industry.

"Hope4Children is helping others prosper through education, and we're about mentoring and also about music, art, entertainment and fashion and things like that to elevate the arts," said the foundation's founder, Grace Walker. "I think that's one of the things that Hope wants to achieve through this event, the linkages through our Hollywood contacts.

Being noticed anywhere in Hollywood can be a feat, Walker said. What HOPE4Children does is tap its Hollywood connections so that young talent can be discovered.

"When I came to Los Angeles, I didn't know anybody, and I just came here with a dream," said Los Angeles-based vocal coach Philip Gilberti, who has been working with Walker as an industry contact for two months. "There are lots of people who have dreams and don't have the opportunities. Through Hope4Children, I am happy to provide those dreams and develop the talent."

Founded by Walker in Glendale, the organization also provides charitable services by collecting clothes, medicine, toys and educational materials and ships them to Third World countries. HOPE4Children also provides scholarships and community workshops on the value of education, arts and after-school programs.

"It's fantastic and exciting, for them as well as us, to see the whole process, knowing where they came from," said Parris Harris, stage manager of Thursday evening's event. "There are so many steps to entertainment. Tonight is going to be one of those steps, and it's going to get them closer and closer to their final goals in entertainment."

Walker's son, Michael, one of the performers at Thursday's event, was born and raised in Glendale, and attended Incarnation School. Being mentored through HOPE4Children, he said, has given him opportunities he would not otherwise have had.

He has been performing professionally for about a year.

"This is just a gateway to accomplish what I want to accomplish," Michael Walker said. "We are going to be working until we get there."

For more information on the foundation, call Grace Walker at (818) 288-6798 or e-mail

FOR THE RECORD: This corrects an earlier version that misidentified Parris Harris as the producer.

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