Busta’s Person of the Week: The 2022 Forsyth County Entertainment Awards raises funds, awareness for NICU

Busta’s Person of the Week: The 2022 Forsyth County Entertainment Awards raises  funds, awareness for NICU
November 01
13:52 2022

By Busta Brown

It’s been four years since the Forsyth County Entertainment Awards (FCEA) were held and now they’re finally back! The inaugural ceremony was held on July 8, 2012, and it’s been one of the most anticipated events in the Triad area. 

The founder of NCEA is Winston- Salem native Ellen Forbes. “There are a lot of people behind the scenes that aren’t recognized or receive awards. Superstar entertainers such as Beyonce have people behind the scenes that’s played a major role in their success. From makeup, vocal coaching, wardrobe, choreography, and more. So, I started this to acknowledge those that are often overlooked … those unsung heroes,” shared Forbes. 

The reason behind the four-year gap is something you may see in a blockbuster movie or read in a best-selling novel. “In January 2019, during the process for the 5th annual Forsyth County Entertainment Awards, my oldest daughter, Lakira Leak, was killed in a car wreck on her way to work. It was raining like cats and dogs. She ran off the side of the road. She was only 21,” shared a surprisingly cool and calm Ellen Forbes.  

I quietly prayed for her strength, patience, and understanding. And then I asked: how are you able to have such a beautiful and warm spirit as you speak about losing your daughter? 

“I believe everyone has a clock when their time is up. And fortunately, during my daughter’s time, I can truly say that she had a wonderful life. She went to Paris and Germany. She spoke several languages, received a full scholarship to UNCG, received an award from President Obama, and was an activist and giver. She was absolutely amazing,” Ellen shared with a beautiful and warm smile.

During Lakira’s funeral service, she shared, “It was a joy to see such a packed house with everyone saying how wonderful my daughter was. Every day I tried to figure out how to live without her, but then I remember how I lived with her and that keeps me going,” said Ellen.

Two months later, Forbes’ strength and resilience was put to the test once again. Her father, Christopher Calvin Leak, died from complications of prostate cancer. “When my dad passed away, I had the same feelings. It’s hard, but you have to remember those good times.”

In 2019-2020, she and her husband, Leroy Forbes, had a thriving flower shop and then again, the unexpected happened. “I found out I was pregnant. And because I’m older, it was a high-risk pregnancy,” said Ellen. Less than two weeks after Leroy and his wife closed their flower shop, Ellen went into preterm labor. “My water broke and I was less than six months pregnant,” said Ellen. Love Forbes was born on January 20, 2021, but stayed in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for 98 days. Love’s stay in the NICU inspired Ellen and Leroy to start a nonprofit called One Love Strong Foundation.

“We help families whose child is going into or currently in the NICU or transitioning home. Forsyth County and the Raleigh-Durham area have the highest numbers of infant mortality and preterm births. So, our mission is to educate people about the NICU.”

This is why the 5th annual Forsyth County Entertainment Awards have such deep meaning. It’s an awards ceremony with a purpose. “November is Prematurity Awareness Month, so that’s why it’s important for our nonprofit to have the awards ceremony this month,” said Ellen. “We’ll have a spokesperson from the March of Dimes and other organizations there. We’ll have food and lots of fun as well. It’s all for a wonderful and much needed cause,” shared Ellen. This year’s hosts are DaVonte McKenith and Audrey Biesk from the WXII Morning Team, and comedian Dion Fowler. Performers will include Joel Hurt, Big Ron Hunter, Sean Mettler and April Waller. 

The awardees were chosen a little differently this year. “I don’t want our awardees showing up with their families and friends and not receiving an award. I’ve been in that situation, and it doesn’t feel good. I refuse to do that to our honorees. So, this year they won’t go through the process of being nominated. This year I picked people that I know are instrumental in our Forsyth County communities. It’s a much easier process, and no one will feel disappointed or embarrassed,” said Ellen. She has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve known in my 30 years living in the Triad. 

The 2022 FCEA honorees are: motivational speaker and activist Frankie Gist, who will receive the Lakira Leak Award for Youth; DJ Bobby Locke will receive the Chris Leak Award; painter and decorator Lida Calvert-Hayes will receive the Latisha Alston Award; Bill McClain, owner of Mr. Bill Productions, will receive the Monica Gary Award; radio personality Anita “Bosslady” Dean-Arnette will receive the Jamica D. Lyons Award; and Kendall Doub, artist and graphic designer, will receive the Mariam Ning Award. 

Other honorees include: legendary musician Joe Robinson; musician Keith Byrd, Sr.; sound and studio engineer and videographer Bobby Brower; Dana Bryson; Lana Schlotfeld, The Village Inn general manager; Bobby Roebuck, owner of Shot to the Head Photography; Robert Huff, co-owner of Bo-Ty Florist; Keela Johnson, founder of Forsyth Woman Magazines; Phase Band; and DJ Sweet Breeze. 

The FCEA Awards is a fundraiser for the Forbes’ nonprofit, One Love Strong Foundation. The awards ceremony is Nov. 6 at the Village Inn Event Center, 6205 Ramada Dr. in Clemmons. The red carpet and silent auction kickoff begins at 3 p.m., with the awards ceremony and a gala following at 4 p.m. It’s a black-tie affair, so come ready to shine like a star. 

For tickets and more info, visit 

My Phenomenal Person of the Week is Ellen Forbes.

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