To wrap up the year in grand style, Hennessy hosted the annual V.S.O.P Privilège Awards, an event that focuses on recognizing prominent role models and inspiring the next generation of multicultural business leaders and entrepreneurs. Now in its 13th year, the Privilège Award is bestowed to individuals who, like Hennessy, have achieved unparalleled levels of accomplishment and use their success to give back to others in their community. This year’s honoree was award-winning actor, best-selling author, and philanthropist Hill Harper. We attended the exclusive event at Sousa House in New York’s West Village to bring you all the behind-the-scenes details.
The award was presented by Rodney Williams, CMO & EVP of Brands, Moët Hennessy USA. In presenting the award Williams said, “Hennessy has a long history of being involved with the community, dating back to the 1800’s. The Hennessy Privilege Award honorees have been well curated, they are people who have mastered their fields professionally but still make a major effort to give back to the community. So it’s with great pride we present this award to Hill Harper, this is a bad brother right here.”
Harper starred on the CBS TV drama CSI: NY from 2004 to 2013. He most recently starred on USA Network’s Covert Affairs and returned to CBS as Agent Boyle in the drama Limitless. He can also be seen co-starring alongside Will Smith in Concussion, which was released in 2015. Harper is the author of four New York Times-bestsellers and earned seven NAACP image awards for his writing and acting. He graduated magna cum laude as valedictorian of his department with a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and cum laude with a Juris Doctorate degree from Harvard Law School. He also holds a master’s degree with honors from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Harper travels frequently as a motivational speaker, addressing a wide range of audiences, including youth adults, couples and business leaders.
But it’s his tremendous off-air accolades and contributions that complement the intention behind Hennessy’s V.S.O.P Privilège Award: four New York Times best-sellers, seven NAACP Image Awards, and an unwavering commitment to community as founder of the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation. Founded in 2006, Harper’s non-profit organization focuses on providing mentorship through job programs, conferences and community service projects.
Williams continued, “His commitment to be a living role model of what it means to be involved and give back to the community is reflected by his latest enterprise, a roasting coffee plant in Detroit that generates jobs and employment opportunities and serves as an example of entrepreneurship and community building. It is for all these reasons we present the Hennessy Privilege Award to Hill Harper”
In accepting the award Harper said, “Thank you Rodney and thank you to Hennessy. When I think of the past recipients of this award they are people I have great respect for and I’m thankful to be thought of in their company. More importantly we think about Hennessy and what they are doing. I believe in social enterprise. The idea is to to do well, do good, and help the community. Dr. King said ‘We are all tied in a single garment of mutual destiny,’ which means my destiny is connected to yours, yours is to mine. The young brother in South Central or the South Bronx or Southside Chicago is not gonna do well if I’m not doing well, if Hennessy is not doing well. We have a responsibility to help each other, support each other, provide a lane of opportunity so we all can win, because it is possible for all of us to win. This award only encourages me to do more.”In addition to recognizing Harper and supporting his foundation, the 2016 Privilège Awards revealed Hennessy’s continued and expanded partnership with the Marcus Graham Project. For years, Hennessy has supported the non-profit organization and its mission to nurture, mentor and train multicultural professionals to pursue careers within marketing and advertising. In 2017, Hennessy will sponsor the Marcus Graham Project’s Tenth Anniversary Awards Gala and host two marketing workshops with the organization. As the newest recipient of the Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège Award, Hill Harper has been invited for the first time to serve as the awards gala host and participate in the workshop panels.