EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg will have another award to add to her collection June 15, when she’ll be honored during a Moving Mountains virtual fundraiser.
The nonprofit, founded and led by Bosch star Jamie Hector, provides free programs, access and opportunities for underserved youth to learn the creative and business sides of the arts. Goldberg joins a roster of previous Moving Mountains honorees that includes LL cool J, Steve Buscemi, Jesse Williams and Hill Harper, among others. At the event, she’ll be saluted during a program that also features a cook-along with onetime NBA star Charles Oakley and appearances by Michael Bivins, O.J. Anderson, Stephen Baker and Robert “Kool” Bell.
“I love Whoopi, she’s just an amazing person,” says Hector, “I reached out to her and thanked her for being [a force] in the industry. She understands the work we are doing and how important it is to be a part of a community and give back to our youth.”
Creating an interactive program for virtual attendees (that includes an at-home cooking offering) was important to Hector and his board as a way to counteract the Zoom fatigue many feel at this point in the pandemic. Putting together a gala, whether it’s virtual or in person, is always a heavy lift, but for Hector it’s yet another reminder of the soul and purpose of Moving Mountains, which he founded in 2007 because he knew first-hand the impact an exposure to the arts had on his life and eventual career.
He trained at an organization called Tomorrow’s Future Theater Company when he was young, and when he returned the favor, the impact was overwhelming. “I started Moving Mountains and not long after, I had to leave and shoot The Wire,” says the actor who broke out on the beloved HBO crime drama series. “Then when I came back and visited with a student named Dominique, she stopped me and said, ‘This is what you do? You are a part of our lives and then you just disappear?’ That’s when I realized the effect I had on the youngsters and in return, the effect they had on my life.”
Hector dug in his heels and put in the work to build the organization. “It began to grow and grow and grow every year,” explains the actor, who returns for the seventh and final season of Amazon’s critically acclaimed Bosch on June 25. “We develop their skills and help them build character. We give a place to come work with like-minded individuals, and some of them may not even know yet what direction they want to take in their life, but we help them find it.”
The program, open to youth ages 8 to 21, includes drama, dance, vocal, film and writing. One of the many rewards Hector has witnessed during his Moving Mountains run is seeing some of his students go on to professional success (even in fields outside the arts) and return to help teach programs for the next generation. “It’s a beautiful thing,” he explains. “To know that we have created a place for budding talent to build confidence, move on and be productive in the arts, in life and in business, it really touches my heart.”
Tickets for the June 15 fundraiser are available here.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.