The Hollywood Radio and Television Society is set to honor actor, director, producer and activist Jesse Williams at its annual HRTS Foundation Gala, benefitting the HRTS Foundation, Thursday, December 14.

Williams, who starred on Grey’s Anatomy and won an Academy Award as executive producer for the short film Two Distant Strangers, will be honored with the first-ever HRTS Change Maker Award at this year’s Gala. Williams will join HRTS Board President, HRTS Foundation Board Member and Head of Drama Series, Amazon Studios, Odetta Watkins for an onstage conversation about his career and activism.

The Gala, which will be held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, also features a cocktail reception, dinner program with comedy by the event’s host, rising comedian/actor/impressionist Matt Friend and dancing with tunes provided by DJ Ace Reider and an unprecedented industry-wide silent auction designed with all career levels in mind.

Corporate Sponsors for the Gala include Sony Pictures Television, Disney Entertainment and Amazon Studios/MGM. Contributing Sponsors include Netflix, CBS, STARZ and Easterseals Disability Services. The Scholarship Table sponsor is A+E Networks. Members of the inaugural class of the HRTS Fellowship, the first initiative of the HRTS Foundation, will also culminate at the event. For information on becoming a sponsor or purchasing tables or tickets, please visit:

“We are honored to see The HRTS Foundation Gala emerge as the annual gathering point for the entertainment community following last year’s HRTS 75th Anniversary Gala, which launched the HRTS Foundation,” said Watkins. “And we are thrilled to honor Jesse Williams, who’s inclusive and justice-centered approach to his career embodies the mission of The HRTS Foundation.”

“We can’t wait to host the industry on a night that supports The HRTS Foundation’s work toward a diverse, equitable and inclusive industry in such a united way,” added Melissa Grego, CEO of HRTS and Chairperson of The HRTS Foundation. “This special event, like the HRTS community in all we do, is designed to resonate with aspiring and established members of the entertainment industry alike – and everyone in between.”

As part of the program, Signature Sponsor Amnesty International will join HRTS’ support of inclusion and representation in entertainment. Nadia Daar, Amnesty International USA’s Chief Strategy and Impact Officer will speak of the impact of inclusive storytelling and how Amnesty International can provide resources for the Hollywood community.

2023 HRTS Foundation Auction bids are now open – and anyone may participate, in person or remotely – via the official 2023 HRTS Foundation Gala Auction Room During the cocktail reception, attendees will be able to peruse dozens of auction items on display, designed with all career levels in mind. The auction will close at the end of the dinner program.

A native of Chicago and graduate of Temple University, Williams began his career teaching in low-income Philadelphia public schools. Williams’ journey as a film and television producer has garnered him an Academy Award for the short film Two Distant Strangers and several successful documentaries, including America Divided with Norman Lear. He most recently appeared in Paramount’s Secret Headquarters with Owen Wilson, Netflix’s Your Place or Mine with Reese Witherspoon and Season 3 of Hulu’s Only Murders In The Building with Meryl Streep, Martin Short, Steve Martin, Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez.

Williams made his Broadway debut in Take Me Out, earning his first Tony Award nomination and Tony win for Best Revival of a Play. Williams’ consistent impact as a social justice leader exploded internationally after his 2016 BET Humanitarian Award acceptance speech and his ability to weave his mission into creative and compelling collaborations with incredible artists, as he did with Hank Willis Thomas on the award-winning Question Bridge: Black Males, a transmedia art installation housed in the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture’s permanent collection.

Williams is among the most prominent and impactful entrepreneurial faces in tech today: now boasting four leading mobile apps on the market: BLeBRiTY, Scholly, Ebroji and Homeschooled. He operates three under his multimedia company VISIBILTY, co-founded with renowned artist Glenn Kaino, all while connecting students to over $100 million dollars in scholarship money via America’s #1 college scholarship app, Scholly, where he is both a company partner and vocal ambassador. Williams is also the youngest to sit on the Board of Directors for both Advancement Project, a leading national civil rights organization and Harry Belafonte’s arts and social justice organization,

Comedian/actor/impressionist Matt Friend is set to host the 2023 HRTS Foundation this year’s Gala. Friend, who is 25, has appeared on numerous national and local TV shows, including The Howard Stern Show, Today, Jimmy Kimmel Live, WNBC’s New York Live, Good Day LA, Good Day NY, Good Morning Washington and many more. In 2019, he won Kenan Thompson’s Ultimate Comedy Experience at Caroline’s on Broadway. Matthew’s repertoire includes more than 250 impressions ranging from Ron DeSantis to Timothée Chalamet.