By Isoul H. Harris
Back in 2000, the film Pay It Forward premiered. The premise: A young boy devises a social experiment in which the beneficiary of a good deed responds with a good deed to someone other than the benefactor. The movie? Mediocre. The message? Superb. And just as the experiment caught on culturally and spread globally in the film, off-screen, the concept of “Paying It Forward” became a part of the global cultural lexicon. Seventeen years later, the concept is still active and relevant.
Led by Kevin Williams, BMW’s head of multicultural marketing, the German luxury automaker recently held its second annual Women Who Pay It 4ward Honors: Celebrating High Impact, Diverse Women Making a Difference at STK Midtown in New York City. Emceed by multimedia host Bevy Smith, the event was electric, and the honorees were inspiring.
Actress Yvonne Kopacz-Wright (Guiding Light, Law & Order) shared how she has used her celebrity and access to raise awareness about the plight of bees and their importance to the world’s ecosystem. Carmen Perez spoke passionately about her work co-chairing the Woman’s March, and advocating for the rights of the unjustly incarcerated around the world. Rachel Goldstein, the founder of Agent of Change, humbly accepted the Pay It 4ward Award for the life-changing events she creates that raise significant amounts of money for various philanthropic endeavors around the country. Fatima Rahmati received an award for fighting for the rights of female and male Afghan refugees in America, a task even more important in the era of Trump.
For each guest that test drove a Four Series convertible, BMW donated $100 to the PowHerful Foundation, an organization founded by media maven Soledad O’Brien, and led by Kim Bundy, that gets young women to and through college.