By DeoVonte “Deo” Means
Chicago is always at its finest when we are constantly elevating the standard of success. It brings out the true sexy allure of the city. On last Thursday, the third annual Step Up .Get Tested.-campaign held a special event with American film and television actor and singer, Jenifer Lewis as part of their month long activities to commemorate National HIV Testing Day held each year on June 27th. The standing room only event was held at Chicago’s legendary Baton Show Lounge (436 N. Clark St.) and hosted by Anthony Galloway. Anthony and the team from Step Up. Get Tested. effectively raised the bar of excellence when it comes to celebrity hosting and entertainment. “Think Like a Man Too” star Jenifer Lewis discussed how she has managed her successful career over the years as an actor and singer. Ms. Lewis surprised everyone singing the theme song from the movie she starred in “Jackie’s Back” and the enthusiastic crowd joined in on a sing along. As the conversation continued she spoke openly and candidly about her struggle with bi-polar and friends she lost to HIV, encouraging the crowd to remove the stigma attached to each disease and get help. The evening concluded with an interactive question and answer session with the audience.
The dynamics of the pre-event work alone was impressive. Step Up. Get Tested. with Jenifer Lewis hosted by Anthony Galloway was released weeks before the June 26th date. The day in which the announcement was made public, guest were asked to RSVP for the event at the designated website. The sheer magnitude of Jenifer’s presence caused the RSVP list to reach capacity within a couple of hours. Guest who were lucky enough to make the RSVP list, were asked to arrive in a timely fashion to ensure their entrance. I arrived at 6pm and the line was to the alley-way. Within minutes, doors were officially opened and if you were on the RSVP you were quickly escorted inside the Baton Show Lounge into what resembled a homecoming of Chicago’s finest. Kicking off the event before the conversation with the special guest, attendees were treated to standup comedy by the lovable Miss Ruff & Stuff and Donald Underwood, followed by a soulful performance from Tovi Khali & the Art & Soul Band. Jenifer took to the stage and delivered an engaging and dynamic yet intimate performance through a live interview/discussion moderated by Anthony Galloway. “It was more than an honor to have support from someone like Ms. Lewis to help encourage people to get tested and know their HIV status,” says Anthony Galloway. “We appreciate her being open and honest with us by sharing her own experience of losing friends in the earlier time of the HIV epidemic.” These types of events are what make’s Chicago a thrilling and entertaining city. I enjoyed the diversity represented and the hard work put into making this a successful event. Kudos gentlemen on a job well done!!!…Deo