An intimate group of executives, talent and journalists gathered in Hollywood on Friday evening to celebrate the life of Joyce Sevilla, a veteran publicist and brand marketing whiz who died unexpectedly last week.
Held only blocks away from the bustle of the Academy Awards setup at Hollywood and Highland, restauranteur Salvatore Aurora closed his Sunset Blvd. property Sycamore Tavern for Sevilla’s friends and family. The sporty hangout was transformed by luxurious linens, hundreds of candles, and snapshots of Sevilla’s adventures blanketing the walls.
The evening was hosted by Sevilla’s inner circle — public relations firm Shadow’s chief executive Brad Zeifman, “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race” contestant and medical executive Corinne Kaplan, BWR Public Relations senior vice president Gary Mantoosh, Thirsty Media co-founder Casey Brennan, and BrandLink Communications co-founder Greg Link.
Many shared stories of Sevilla’s outsized personality — described by Mantoosh as a “tour de force” — and her ability to play master host in welcoming celebrities, tastemakers and writers to staple events like the annual Neon Carnival, parallel to Coachella. She reveled in bringing people together, said the hosts in their remarks. Zeifman spoke of her fierce loyalty.
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Sevilla’s mother, sisters and cousin attended and mixed with a crowd that included Nick and Vanessa Lachey, model and TV personality CariDee English, host and former Miss USA Susie Castillo, singer Amie Miriello, Sunshine Sachs CEO Shawn Sachs, and dozens of other industry players. The event was catered by chef Antonia Lofaso’s Venice hot spot Scopa Italian Roots, also co-owned by Aurora.
Tears were shed over Sevilla’s unexpected loss, though the evening ended as so many of Sevilla’s events did, with a dance party that pushed past last call.
Sevilla attended Villanova University, and moved from Pennsylvania to New York to pursue a career in music. She climbed the ranks at Jive Records in the halcyon days of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. She moved to Los Angeles over a decade ago to take a top job at PR and branding firm Entertainment Fusion Group. She launched an eponymous company two years ago, with a mix of lifestyle and content production clients. She loved the finer things, and her dog Penelope.
Sevilla’s nickname and social media handle, Golden Lady, inspired a signature cocktail at the service, and a bittersweet message spelled out on the venue’s marquee: “Stay golden.”
On a personal note, Sevilla was like family to myself and Kaplan. Her light was one of the brightest, and will be sorely missed in the rooms and events of show business. After many conversations with her loved ones last night, I was reminded of a quote from Nora Ephron, on the loss of her own best friend.
‘I want to talk to her. I want to have lunch with her. I want her to give me a book she just read and loved,’” Ephron wrote in 2006. “She is my phantom limb, and I just can’t believe I’m here without her.”