Laila Ali and Mikki Willis
The Champion Spirit
Laila Ali and Mikki Willis
The Champion Spirit
Thursday, February 25, 2010 6:30-8:00pm

Laila Ali, an athlete and champion of health and fitness, is a role model for today’s healthy, on-the-go woman. The youngest daughter of Veronica Porsche Anderson, and of the legendary Muhammad Ali, she is a strong, intelligent, woman, daughter, mom and wife. She has been the major draw in women’s boxing for years as an undefeated title holder.
 

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Laila's attention to an overall healthy lifestyle has rendered her an expert in this field. As a champion athlete, Laila believes that photography shows the real and beautiful side of sports. Throughout her career she has tried to show that you can be strong and beautiful as a female athlete. Photography has shaped the way people look at women in sports and the way people look at women in boxing. For Laila, it has been inspiring to see all the action shots of her father depict beautifully what he went through in the ring and showed the confidence and determination in his eyes.

Laila has appeared in numerous magazines, including Newsweek , Sports Illustrated , People , Ebony , Vogue , Cosmopolitan , Marie Claire , Essence , JET , ESPN the Magazine , TV Guide , and Time . She also authored a motivational book titled Reach!  She wrote the book in an effort to help young women who may need to be inspired in life. Laila presently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, former NFL player, Curtis Conway, and their son, Curtis Muhammad Conway, Jr.

 

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Art and entertainment have always been the heartbeat of Mikki Willis' life. At the age of 25, he founded his first business endeavor, The New York/Los Angeles Theater of the Arts. "NYLA" became home to many Southern California artists who were driven to push the envelope. As Theater Director, Mikki wrote, produced and directed countless experimental productions. This is where he learned the rules, and how to skillfully break them.

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In 1996 Mikki made his directorial debut with the independent feature film Shoe Shine Boys . Academy Award-winning actor Martin Landau signed on as Executive Producer, traveling with the film as it toured the festival circuit, winning numerous awards and praise from top critics. The film's innovative visual style attracted the attention of major record labels and launched Mikki's career as a music video director. His first video was nominated for a Premio lo Nuestro, the Latin equivalent of an MTV Music Award. From there, Mikki went on to direct more than 45 breakthrough Spanish-language music videos.

September 11th, 2001 marked the turning point in Mikki's life and career. Having been inside the twin towers just hours before they fell, he helped to organize and lead a group of civilians who risked their lives to aid rescue workers. It was on the rubble of the World Trade Center that his life was forever changed. On his return to Los Angeles, he began laying the foundation for his life's mission by founding Elevate Films, Elevate Foundation, and Elevate Film Festival, which challenge the international film community to create works of social and global importance. For this, Mikki Willis received the 2008 Conscious Life Humanitarian Award.

 

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