Queen Sugar and Ava DuVernay Had the Sweetest Garden Party in NYC

Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Ava DuVernay, Kofi Siriboe and Rutina Wesley attend a garden cocktail party in honor of DuVernay and the OWN show Queen Sugar at Ladurée SoHo on May 20, 2018, in New York City.
Photo: Roy Rochlin (Getty Images)
AntisocialThe society column for people afraid of society, written by The Root's Editor-in-Chief and resident Bipolar Disorder expert/sufferer.

First things first: When it comes to Queen Sugar and director Ava DuVernay, I’m a total fan. I am biased. I am prejudiced. I am not objective at all. I love the show she created, which is beautiful and heartfelt. I love the actors who were cast to star in it, who are charming and talented. I love that DuVernay has only hired female directors to helm episodes, providing some much-needed parity in a sexist Hollywood that still keeps women in the margins when they’re behind the lens.

So when my deputy managing editor, Yesha Callahan, passed on to me the chance to attend a garden party for Queen Sugar that promised to bring the spirit of NOLA (New Orleans) to NYC (New York City), I did not hesitate, I did not stutter, I did not falter. I RSVP’d for myself and our weekend social editor, Corey Townsend; put on my most “It’s spring, dammit!” dress; and went this past Sunday, May 20.

Everyone in this photo at some point has worked with me: ABC’s Joi-Marie McKenzie, yours truly, and Corey Townsend and Danielle Young, both of The Root.
Photo: Corey Townsend (The Root)

Welcome to Antisocial, the society column for people with social anxiety disorders—namely me. For those who’ve been following my exploits, I have dramatically improved in not being a complete dullard who stares like a deer in headlights with nothing of interest to say when strangers start talking to me. Now I’m just a partial dullard who blinks at people I’ve already met three times but can’t remember because being a tastefully dressed, beautiful, brown-skinned black girl in media with long, brown-highlighted, Veronica Lake-esque wavy hair is a really popular look right now.

Sorry, Kela Walker! My brain is trash!

The party was star-studded, filled with all the usual suspects—an assortment of New York City media types, and a few surprises, like soon-to-be MTV Movie and TV Awards host Tiffany Haddish. Also sauntering around the garden at Ladureé SoHo: actors Leon, Michael K. Williams, Katie Holmes and Gina Gershon, as well as former American Vogue Editor-at-Large André Leon Talley, author Zadie Smith (and her mom), MSNBC’s Ari Melber, singer Maxwell and, of course, director Ava DuVernay and the main cast from Queen Sugar, including Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe, Rutina Wesley and Bianca Lawson.

André Leon Talley, Tiffany Haddish, Maxwell, Ava DuVernay and Gina Gershon attend a garden party in honor of DuVernay and the OWN show Queen Sugar at Ladurée SoHo on May 20, 2018, in New York City.
Photo: Patrick McMullan (Getty Images)

I was most excited to see—everyone. Everyone looked gorgeous and smelled good and was extremely friendly. And that excitement I held for everyone was my theme for this evening where DuVernay, Siriboe and Haddish stayed so long and late, I’m convinced they closed up Ladureé SoHo around them. And everyone was so extremely friendly, especially Wesley and Gardner, who my guest, Corey, declared were “clavicle goals” for their jutting figures, and Lawson, who is one of the sweetest and most graceful folks in the business.


During the event, we got to hear songs performed by Meshell Ndegeocello, from her new covers album, Ventriloquism. Most memorable was her warning for us all to not go chasing “Waterfalls,” à la TLC.


It was a slow, jazzy bop.

Which is actually an apropos description of the evening, where Corey and I hung out with friends and the famous alike for hours, until waiters started putting away chairs and shutting down the bar for everyone—except, seemingly, Kofi Siriboe, who seemed to have no problem procuring a late-night drink.


As we ended our evening wandering about SoHo, where there was absolutely no place nearby for a late-night bite, I made myself go home because it was well past 11 p.m. and I totally had to come to this job in the morning for a slew of meetings and yet another event that Monday evening for Harlem Stage, which I’ll write about later.

Until then, prepare yourself: Queen Sugar returns to OWN for its third season during a two-night special premiere May 29 and May 30.

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About the author

Danielle C. Belton

Editor-in-Chief of The Root. Nerd. AKA "The Black Snob."