This was announced by the organizing committee for the event, saying that Smiley is joining a long and impressive list of past speakers that included Cicely Tyson (actress); David Thompson (former Prime Minister of Barbados); Louis Farrakhan (Nation of Islam); PJ Patterson (former Prime Minister of Jamaica); Harry Belafonte (singer and actor); Maxine Waters (US Congresswoman) and Danny Glover (actor, director, political activist).
Smiley is also noted to be an author, entrepreneur, advocate and philanthropist and appears nightly on American television on The Tavis Smiley Show. He is known to engage in thought-provoking exchanges with guests that have included US President Barack Obama, actor Denzel Washington, former US President Bill Clinton, actor Morgan Freeman, US stand-up comedian Chris Rock, film stars Richard Gere and Kate Winslett and professional tennis player Serena Williams.
He was honored by TIME magazine in 2009 as one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People”. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has also announced that in 2014 Smiley will be honoured with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The gala is usually attended by top government leaders, business executives and diplomats.