Nick Cannon had his goofy-yet-brilliant businessman swagger on high last night in Washington, D.C. He and wife Mariah Carey, who arrived late wearing a lovely crimson evening gown, hosted a presentation of TeenNick’ HALO Awards at the Newseum. Although the two were busy co-hosting the screening, they still managed to steal an onstage smooch.
Top execs from MTV, VIACOM and Nickelodeon were in the building to pat Nick on the back and welcome him to their ranks. He’s the new chairman of TeenNick, a position he snagged by delivering two killer pitches in the same meeting.
“Nick and Nickelodeon go way back,” said Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and MTV Networks’ Kids and Family Group. “But it’s still unusual for us at Nickelodeon to unanimously love and greenlight an idea on the spot. And even more unusual, even if we love Nick, to love two ideas in the same meeting.”
Nick pitched them the HALO (Helping and Leading Others) Awards and himself as the Chairman of their TeenNick channel. Both went over very well.
Last night we got to see his idea come to life. He told the crowd, “I got tired of seeing awards shows where celebrities were just kissing each other’s butts. It’s just enough of those on TV already. Let’s use that celebrity for good and take that spotlight and shine it on people that are really making a difference.”
The four teen HALO Award recipients have amazing stories. Alicia Keys nominated Brryan Jackson, who runs a foundation for teens living with HIV/AIDS. Justin Timberlake nominated Leah Stoltz for leading a support group for girls with scoliosis. And actress Hayden Pannettiere nominated Megan Kilroy for her environmental activism.
HALO winner Darrius Snow, 19, spent a good chunk of time teaching a group of eager tweens how to step. LeBron James nominated Darius for the work he does in Bankhead Atlanta through a group he founded called BTEAM (Bankhead Teens Encouraging Action by Motivating others) that encourages kids to stay away from drugs and crime.
Darrius was born a crack baby to a single mom who abandoned him when he was 2, yet he encourages others, and he’s become the first person in his family to attend college.
“You have to find your purpose. … Make a difference,” he advised. “There’s going to be–always–someone trying to bring you down, but you have to look at the bright side: your dream. Your dream is bigger than the negative words.”
“I was looking for ‘Why me? What can I get?’” Brryan added. “But then I realized it’s about what you can give. Do you want to be a part of the problem or a part of the solution?”
The four amazing teen winners got $10,000 for their organizations, another $10,000 for their education and a trip to hang out with the celebrity who nominated them. They were also in D.C. last night for the screening and got a standing ovation from the crowd when Nick pulled them onstage after the show. After the screening, the winners mingled at a reception with other teens, execs and Capitol Hill staffers.
It’s clear that the teens receiving the award are remarkable people, but they’re very humble about their accomplishments, and the ecstatic group of recipients was just as excited about meeting each other as they were about the awards themselves.
“I am so lucky,” Megan said of meeting her fellow honorees. “They’re so inspirational. Listening to them and all their stories, and what they do, it’s incredible.”
The main one responsible for bringing all the excited recipients together was Leah, who tracked everyone down on Facebook. They’ve all been chatting on the social network ever since.
“I knew that we had to get in touch somehow, so I was googling ‘HALO’ every single day,” she revealed. “It’s been really so much fun getting to know each other. We finally met in person for the first time yesterday, and it’s like we were old time friends. We just immediately embraced each other.”
Darrius felt his fellow recipients said everything there was to say about activism, but we think he summed it all up nicely.
The HALO Awards premiere Friday, December 11 at 8 p.m. EST on TeenNick.
– Sabrina M. Parker, Sonya Eskridge
Additional reporting by Ericka Boston