The Entertainment Industry Foundation joined DonorsChoose.org to broadcast the live telecast “Think It Up” Friday night at Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar.
The commercial-free event brought cultural awareness of the urgency to improve America’s education system. The hour-long program aired on all four broadcast networks with stars, students and teachers pushing for donations to thinkitup.org.
Before the show, the audience had a couple of practice runs to act excited when the cameras swooped above them on the floor. They were encouraged to keep their energy up throughout the duration of the show, although that wasn’t a difficult task. Each celebrity that took the stage received more screams than the last.
Justin Bieber kicked off the show with a performance of “What Do You Mean?” The section of mostly teenage girls close to the stage were shocked when he ran up the stairs to touch their hands. Later in the show, Team Jacob shouted so loud that Taylor Lautner had to pause a beat before reading his announcement about Staples’ involvement in Think It Up.
“Modern Family” actor Eric Stonestreet also interacted with the audience. He took a minute to give high-fives after his time to speak on camera. Pop teen sensation Austin Mahone even snapped a few selfies with teens while waiting for his turn to read the teleprompter.
Other celebrity guests who attended the event included Jessica Biel, Halle Berry, J.K. Simmons, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Gwyneth Paltrow, will.i.am and Joe Manganiello. Jimmy Kimmel, Jessica Williams, Stephen Colbert, Stevie Wonder, James Corden and Malala Yousfazai contributed video segments during the special television event.
As captivating as the stars were, the room went silent when a video came onscreen showing schools across the country with inspirational stories that impacted their respective communities.
Kacey Musgraves sang “This Town” and Big Sean ended the show with a performance of “One Man Can Change the World.” He received a standing ovation after giving a heartfelt speech about his grandmother’s impact on his life while black and white photos of her were projected behind him.
“My grandmother used to tell me, ‘One man can change the world, one man meaning one person,'” he stated. “Maybe you have a grandma, a teacher, a family member that always told you that you could do anything. I’m telling you not only can it happen, it’s meant to happen.”
At the after-party, guests were still captivated by Sean’s performance. While standing in line for one of the food trucks provided, a Staples representative said that she was touched when she learned that Sean’s grandmother was both a captain in World War II and one of Detroit’s first female police officers. Another couple shared that they were skeptical when they initially heard a hip-hop artist would perform. However, Sean blew them away with a song and motivational speech that not only resonated with youth, but adults as well.