Essence to Honor Issa Rae, Janelle Monae, Aja Naomi King and Yara Shahidi at Black Women in Hollywood Awards

(photo via shadowandact.com)

(Issa Rae, Aja Naomi King, Janelle Monae, Yara Shahidi (photo via shadowandact.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Essence, the nation’s preeminent brand for African-American women, will commemorate the 10th anniversary of its “Black Women in Hollywood Awards” by shifting from a daytime luncheon to an evening gala for the first time.

The Awards & Gala will honor Hollywood’s “Next Generation”— young women who are excelling and elevating their crafts—including actress/musician Janelle Monáe (Breakthrough Award); groundbreaking “Insecure” actress/writer/producer Issa Rae (Vanguard Award); “How To Get Away With Murder” Yale-educated actress Aja Naomi King (Lincoln Shining Star Award); and “Black-ish” actress Yara Shahidi (Generation Next).

Actress/Producer Gabrielle Union will serve as the program’s host and the red carpet ceremony will be held at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, CA, on Thursday, February 23, 2017.

“For the past decade, the “Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards” have paid homage to our modern image-makers—both in front of the camera and behind the scenes,” said Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca. “This past year has been an exceptional one for diversity in film and television, and with the incredible contributions of Janelle, Issa, Aja and Yara, it is fitting that our 10th anniversary will honor the future of Hollywood and its continued steps on the path to inclusion.”

Also for the first time, internationally acclaimed visual artist and filmmaker Mickalene Thomas will be infusing the event with her elaborate imagery celebrating the power of female beauty as a facet of women’s empowerment.

To check out highlights and behind-the-scenes access to the “Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards & Gala,” go to Essence.comFacebookTwitter or Instagram @essence #BlackWomeninHollywood.

Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes Join Essence to Celebrate Black Women in Hollywood, Honor Debbie Allen

Honoree Debbie Allen and family (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

article by Sandy Cohen, AP via blackamericaweb.com

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Oscar host Chris Rock, producer Reginald Hudlin and film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs took an afternoon off from Academy Awards preparations to celebrate black women in Hollywood.

Rock, Hudlin and Boone Isaacs were among the guests at Essence magazine’s ninth annual awards luncheon Thursday at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Rock and Boone Isaacs didn’t speak publicly; Hudlin took the stage to present an award to legendary entertainer Debbie Allen.

The annual Essence event celebrates the achievements of black women in entertainment. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross, entertainment attorney Nina Shaw and filmmaker Thais Francis were also recognized.

Francis thanked the magazine “for creating a platform of visibility.”

“A lot of us in this audience know the importance of visibility, especially during a time, in a society, in a world, in an industry that’s telling us that we’re invisible,” she said.

Shonda Rhimes, who introduced Allen as the new producing director of “Grey’s Anatomy,” called the writer-director-choreographer-performer “a force of nature.”

Producer/writer Shonda Rhimes attends the Essence 9th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

Shonda Rhimes (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

“Debbie blows through an environment and changes the landscape forever,” Rhimes said.

As Allen accepted the Legend Award, she said she felt like she was in church, preaching to her sisters.

“The only plate I’m going to pass is the plate of purpose,” she said, urging the women in the audience to make real connections with each other — not just to meet up for drinks, but to work on ways of changing the world.

Shaw gave similar advice as she accepted the Power Award. The attorney for such entertainers as Laurence Fishburne, Lupita Nyong’o and Ava DuVernay was introduced by Nick Cannon and Channing Dungey, who became the first African-American to head a broadcast network when she was named president of ABC Entertainment last week.

“If you are a woman who wants to be empowered, then empower other women,” Shaw said.

“Black-ish” star Ross, accompanied by her father and older sister, Rhonda, accepted the Fierce and Fearless award. Ross said she had been sick for the past week and worried she wouldn’t be able to attend the luncheon.

“I got dressed in the car,” she said. “I’m unclear if what I’m wearing is see-through. If it is, I’m sorry.”  She said the recognition from Essence “is truly one of the proudest moments I’ve experienced.”

Oprah Winfrey opened the program, which will air Saturday on OWN.

To read more, go to: http://blackamericaweb.com/2016/02/26/oprah-winfrey-shonda-rhimes-join-essence-to-celebrate-black-women-in-hollywood-honor-debbie-allen/