Originally posted Saturday, October 20, 2018 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Atlanta producer Will Packer and actor/musician Chris “Ludacris” Bridges are hosting a high-ticket fundraiser at Packer’s Atlanta home Sunday, October 21 for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Their wives Heather Packer and Eudoxie Bridges are also co chairs.
Tickets started at $1,000 for the 4 p.m. event. (The $1,000 tickets are sold out. Minimum price as of Saturday is $2,500.)
Packer, in an exclusive interview Saturday, said the host committee has already raised well into the six figures. Among the celebrities who have contributed to Abrams’ campaign and are part of the hosting committee include many of Packer’s African-American friends in Hollywood .
The list includes actors Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Queen Latifah, Michael Ealy, Issa Rae, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Kerry Washington, Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Tyrese Gibson and Tika Sumter. NBA star Grant Hill, Atlanta producer Jermaine Dupri and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” Kandi Burruss are part of the committee as well.
“We’ll have good talks, good drinks and good music,” Packer said. “It will be a chance to meet Stacey and meet some folks on the list.” “
The event is not open to the media. Packer said he will reveal who showed up after the fundraiser is over.
In political ads, Republicans have blasted Abrams for generating so much money from Hollywood and liberal enclaves that don’t match the values of Georgia.
But based on polls, it’s clear there is a divide over what those values are, with Abrams and Kemp in a super tight race.
Packer - who has created films such as “Girls Trip,” “Ride Along” and “Think Like a Man” - and Grammy-winning Ludacris (“Stand Up,” “Money Maker”) were born and raised in Atlanta.
“As Georgia natives, we want to make sure we are on the right side of history,” said Packer.
And with the generous tax credits for film and TV production companies, Georgia has welcomed Hollywood with open arms over the past decade despite the dominance of conservative lawmakers. The state has become the third-largest state in terms of production behind only California and New York.
Both Abrams and Republican opponent Brian Kemp have publicly expressed support for the tax credits, but Packer said Hollywood is not pleased with Kemp’s support of even limited “religious liberty” legislation. He believes if Kemp signs any new legislation that discriminates against gays, TV and film production will quickly abandon the state.
Packer said Abrams approached him early in her campaign to explain her vision and seek his support. “I was very impressed by her,” he said. “I was impressed by how progressive she was. She represented a different voice than I’ve seen in leadership in Georgia so far.”
He said he loves her authenticity. “She’s somebody who didn’t come from a lot,” he said. “She has a real story overcoming things with her family. When she talks about change and helping those less fortunate, it comes from a place of true identification with those people and an earnest place in her heart.”
So Packer reached out to Ludacris after Abrams won her primary and they began planning this fundraiser, reaching out to their friends in Hollywood.
“I’ve been involved for years and years trying to get minorities to vote and for people in general who don’t normally vote,” Ludacris said. “Social media in my opinion does a lot of positive pressure on people who were undecided whether they want to vote. We’re made it to the point you’re considered uncool if you’re sitting at home not doing it. When you get a lot of celebrities involved, it lets you know if you’re not active, people will look down upon you. That’s the mentality we have to create. This is do or die.”
Ludacris said he didn’t realize until he did more research that Abrams had been in politics for more than 15 years. “I was really intrigued seeing how many years she has been in the game and moving up the ladder. She’s fully prepared to take on this task.”
While Ludacris said he has not been as vocal publicly about politics in the past, he isn’t holding back now and is far more engaged than he used to be. He sees evidence of Kemp as secretary of state embarking upon voter suppression tactics targeting minority and low-income voters, an accusation Kemp has denied.
Packer makes no apologies for using his celebrity platform to push for policies he supports.
“As my ability to reach people has risen, I’ve become more involved,” he said. “To me, it’s not like Ludacris or Kevin Hart or Queen Latifah or Chris Rock have opinions that are any more important than anybody else’s. At the same time, it’s not any less important than anybody else. Those people have very loud megaphones. Why not support things they believe in?”