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Cheryal Kearney, Dazian Creative Fabric Environments Winners At 2017 SDSA Awards

By: Marjorie Galas

Aloha Ohana!  The 24th Annual Set Decorators Society of America (SDSA) Awards annual luncheon on June 4th, 2017 turned the Crystal Ballroom in Los Angeles’ historic Biltmore Hotel into a Hawaiian paradise.  Ohana – Hawaiian for “Family” – had a particularly significant ring as the event kicked off with an announcement informing the attentive audience that the org has extended its reach to international participation.  The org’s adjusted name is Set Decorators Society of America International – its acronym will remain SDSA.

Prior to the announcement of this year’s awards and recognition, retiring board members were celebrated and new board members, representing LA, NY and Atlanta, were sworn in.    Least anyone felt left out during this induction, the entire audience was encouraged to read the SDSA mission statement:

“The Mission of the Set Decorators Society of America is to promote the highest standards of excellence in the field worldwide, and to entertain, inspire, teach and preserve the legacy of set decoration in motion pictures and television.”

This year’s Shining Star Award recipient, Michele Harding-Hollie, proved a living example of the org’s mission statement.  Harding-Hollie received the award for her commitment to community service and volunteerism, particularly in promoting the SDSA and its commitment to educating youth through educational programs and scholarships.  Despite the death of her long-time partner six months ago, Harding-Hollie’s dedication to the org remained unwavering.

“I was taught at an early age that when you volunteer, you give your heart and soul,” said Harding-Hollie.  “I love to cherish this commitment.”

SDSA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Cheryal Kearney SDSA, was instrumental in shepherding the careers of many attending members in the audience – an act of charity Kearney saw as essential to elevating the craft of set decorating.  A Prime Time Emmy Winner for her work on 1980s “Gauguin the Savage”, Kearney’s long list of credits spans fifty years.  In addition working on multiple seasons of “The Practice” and television movies including “The Lazarus Syndrome” and “Two of a Kind,” her resume contains pilots for “The Bionic Woman”, “Wonder Woman”, “Moonlighting” “Ally McBeal” and “Boston Legal.”  Her film work includes “Cleopatra Jones,” “Mother, Jugs & Speed”, “Poltergeist” and “The Addams Family.”  Peter Wooley, production designer for “Under the Rainbow,” recalled working with Kearney on the film which featured Chevy Chase, Carrie Fisher and hundreds of actors of short stature.  In addition to stating she always gave her best effort to any movie, bringing “class” and “vision”, he applauded her nature and tenacity in the business, specifically during a time when being both black and female made scoring jobs challenging.

“In the early days, there were few women to look up to.  Men were fearful of powerful, smart, empowered women,” said Wooley.  “She was always the model of class.”

Upon receiving her award, Kearny thanked her daughter and all the individuals who helped her along the way.  She shared a comment that she heard early in her career that she used to drive her efforts on every project she encountered.

“I was irritated by being told ‘set decorators make phony sets’,” recalled Kearny.  “We make sets that are fantasy and fantastic.  They are were the story begins.”

In addition to their annual awards, the SDSA held a silent art auction benefiting local charity LA Goal.

Below is a complete list of 2017 SDSA Award Winners:


SDSA Chair Award 2017

Hollywood Piano, Glenn Treibitz

Brenda Meyers-Ballard

William DeBiasio

Rosemary Brandenburg

Bridge Props, Matt Hennessey & JoAnn Vara

Karen Burnett

Modern Props, Ken Sharp

Bassman Blaine, Roger Morton & Nancy Hoffberg

Aah Inspiring Balloons, Danny & Bambi Bremgartner



Astek Wallcoverings, Aaron Scott Kirsch



Dazian Creative Fabric Environments



Faux Library Studio Rentals, Marc E Meyer Jr

Lennie Marvin’s Prop Heaven, Keith Marvin & Dan Schultz



Michele Harding Hollie

Inaugural award, moving forward the award will be known as

SDSA Michele Harding Hollie Shining Star Award



Dazian Creative Fabric Environments

Honoring the company’s 175th Anniversary of continued business


2017 SDSA COC Silent Art Auction for Charity Beneficiary

LA Goal


2017 SDSA COC Silent Art Auction for Charity Kate Sheeley Outreach Beneficiary

Motion Picture and Television Fund


Honored Retirees

Alexander Carle

Peg Cummings

Lynn Wolverton Parker

Jennifer Polito


Leslie Frankenheimer Scholarship Winners

Rachel Fonseca
Anna Lu Levine