NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Essence Ventures LLC, an independent African-American owned company focused on merging content, community and commerce, today announced its acquisition of multi-platform media company Essence Communications Inc. from Time Inc. ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks will continue at the helm of the company and will also join its board of directors. In addition, the all Black female executive team of ESSENCE, including Ebanks, will have an equity stake in the business.
“This acquisition of ESSENCE represents the beginning of an exciting transformation of our iconic brand as it evolves to serve the needs and interests of multigenerational Black women around the world in an even more elevated and comprehensive way across print, digital, e-commerce and experiential platforms,” said Ebanks. “In addition, it represents a critical recognition, centering and elevation of the Black women running the business from solely a leadership position to a co-ownership position.”
Through the Essence Ventures’ investment and resulting incremental growth opportunities, ESSENCE will focus on expanding its digital businesses via distribution partnerships, compelling original content and targeted client-first strategies. In addition, the brand will expand its international growth by planting its rich content ecosystem, including the flagship magazine, digital properties and successful live event franchises, in more global markets with women who have shared interests and aspirations.
Walt Disney World Resorts, in conjunction with Essence Magazine and comedian Steve Harvey, recently hosted its 9th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy in Orlando, Florida. After selecting from thousands of applications, Disney rewarded 100 U.S. high school students and their chaperones with a four-day seminar (March 3-6) geared towards inspiring, exposing and guiding them on how to achieve their dreams.
After kicking off the long weekend leading a parade down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and being welcomed by Walt Disney World President George Kalogridis, Walt Disney World Vice President and Executive Champion Tracey Powell, Essence Editor-At-Large Mikki Taylor, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and host Steve Harvey, the Dreamers are immersed in intensive sessions with motivational speakers such as Jonathan Sprinkles and Capital Prep School Founder and Principal Dr. Steve Perry to help them understand how to overcome obstacles, learn from failures and how to work hard to make their dreams become reality.
Additionally, the Walt Disney World theme parks become vibrant “classrooms,” where Dreamers participate in hands-on, intensive “Deep Dive” workshops led by industry experts. Covering a myriad of career paths ranging from animation to imagineering to marine biology, the Deep Dives do more than expose students to a career choice; they bring to life an opportunity that otherwise might seem distant or impossible.
Celebrities such as MC Lyte, Tamera Mowery, Loni Love, Lance Gross, Lamman Rucker, Silento and film producer Will Packer also gave their personal time and shared their knowledge with the Dreamers on what it takes to gain and maintain an unconventional career.
“It has literally been so amazing,” said Dreamer Deja Kirk from Oklahoma City, who is interested in becoming an elasmobranchologist (a marine biologist who specializes in sharks and rays). “I’m not one to be corny at all, I’m usually a very stoic person, so for me to be so excited about this is really huge. Even if you don’t know what you’re going to do, just getting the general exposure to everything I feel like not only am I prepared to pursue my career, if I were to change it in any way I still have a really good foundation for whatever I want to do.”
This week, Good Black News will be bringing you even more stories from this unique event, including spotlights on several Dreamers, perspectives from their parents, as well as interviews with some of the dedicated professionals who gave their time and wisdom to DDA this year.
It’s four months out from this year’s ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans, and ESSENCE has just revealed its first look at the 2016 lineup.
For the 22nd year, ESSENCE Fest is bringing sure-to-be-lit nighttime concerts featuring more than 30 of today’s hottest hip-hop and R&B stars. This year’s lineup is a mix of old and new: soul and R&B, hip hop and pop—from Kendrick Lamar to Mariah Carey to Maxwell to Lion Babe.
“The ESSENCE Festival is back in New Orleans with an extraordinary roster of the biggest names and best performers in entertainment—from global music icons to the industry’s rising stars,” said ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks. “We are welcoming Mariah Carey, Kendrick Lamar and Maxwell to headline the Superdome main stage. In addition, we will be embracing newcomers like Leon Bridges, Jeremih, Lion Babe, Dej Loaf and The Internet, as well as fan favorite Charlie Wilson for the ultimate cultural experience in New Orleans this July 4th weekend.”
Click through to see a full list of performers, and be sure to check back for updates.
High school students nationwide can now apply at DisneyDreamersAcademy.comto be among 100 selected to participate in the 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE, the innovative, outside-the-classroom, educational mentoring program at Walt Disney World Resort.
Entering the search for its ninth class of Dreamers, Disney Dreamers Academy continues to hold true to its mission to inspire and fuel the dreams of teens, help them discover a world of possibilities and help them prepare for the future. Each year, students participate in hands-on, full-immersion workshops related to a variety of career paths, ranging from animation to zoology. Each participant learns important skills such as communication techniques, leadership values and networking strategies.
It all takes place in the very magical and creative setting of Walt Disney World Resort. Dreamers are taken both on stage and behind the scenes, where Disney theme parks become vibrant ‘classrooms,’ leading to career discoveries, the pursuit of dreams and fun memories to cherish for a lifetime.
Disney Dreamers are exposed to motivational speakers and celebrities who share their stories and provide insight on how to achieve success and DREAM BIG. Dreamers have the opportunity to cultivate relationships with other students from across the nation while they gain first-hand knowledge from Disney experts and world-renowned entrepreneurs and executives.
“We’re excited to welcome back Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE for the ninth year,” said Tracey D. Powell, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts vice president of deluxe resorts and Disney Dreamers Academy executive champion. “This program stands out for its ability to motivate and inspire teens to think big and achieve their dreams. By applying for Disney Dreamers Academy, high school students from across the country are taking a step toward an experience that can change their lives.”
From March 5-8, Walt Disney World Resort hosted 100 high school students from across the nation at the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine. The teens, who were chosen out of 10,000 applicants, along with a parent or guardian, received an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL, where they took part in a once-in-a-lifetime educational and mentoring program designed to inspire them to dream big, discover a world of possibilities and prepare for their future.
During the 4-day event, participants – referred to as “Dreamers” – learned important skills such as communication techniques and networking strategies, how to build confidence and create fun memories to cherish for a lifetime.
The Academy was founded in 2007 when Disney and Steve Harvey collaborated to combine the ideas from Harvey’s annual mentoring camp for boys with Disney’s concept for a Dreamers Academy.
“Disney is magnificent at making dreams come true,” said Harvey in his welcome address to the Dreamers. “Dreams are previews of life’s coming attractions. A dream will propel you to get an education. Whatever you can imagine you can have.”
During the Dreamers Academy, the Walt Disney World theme parks became vibrant “classrooms,” where Dreamers participated in hands-on, full-immersion “Deep Dive” workshops led by industry experts. Covering a bevy of career paths, ranging from animation to zoology, the Deep Dives do more than expose students to a career choice; they bring to life an opportunity that otherwise might seem distant or impossible.
“I actually didn’t know there were other African-American women neurosurgeons. I mean, I knew… but I never met one in real life,” said Fairfield, CA 11th grader Morgan Buckner after her Deep Dive session led by Orlando-based neurosurgeon Dr. Keyne K. Johnson. “So actually meeting one and seeing the work that she does and how she cares for her patients really instilled in me and solidified how I want to be a neurosurgeon,” Buckner added.
Dreamers were also addressed by motivational speakers such as Capital Prep School founder and Principal Dr. Steve Perry, Bishop TD Jakes and Jonathan Sprinkles, celebrities such as E! host Terrence J, gospel great Yolanda Adams, actor Lamman Rucker, Chef Jeff Henderson, former Disney star Coco Jones, and movie producer Will Packer, entrepreneurs, executives and Disney Cast Members who shared their stories and provided insight on charting a positive course and achievement.
Additionally, the Academy also offered Dreamers instruction on how to present themselves positively via clothing and image in sessions called “Style 101; Young, Fit and Fly” for the young women with Brandi Harvey and Karli Harvey and “Tied to Greatness” for the young men with Dr. Alex Ellis.
“Year after year, Disney Dreamers Academy continues to help students dream big and achieve those dreams,” said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Vice President of Deluxe Resorts and Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell.
ESSENCE Communications President Michelle Ebanks added, “ This program transcends the normal classroom setting, taking learning to the next level. Our valued partnership with Disney Parks and Steve Harvey represents our commitment to the leaders of tomorrow.”
Usher and Missy Elliott were both added to the Essence Festival lineup. This comes after a first round of entertainers were chosen, according to the Singersroom.
Elliott and Usher are joining R&B/soul artists Mary J. Blige,Erykah Badu, Floetry, India.Arie, Elle Varner, Kelly Price, Tweet, Tank, Raheem DeVaughn and many more who have been confirmed for the 21st annual celebration.
Hip-hop artists Kendrick Lamar, Common, Slick Rick, Kool Moe Dee, Doug E. Fresh and Mystikal were also confirmed.
Comedian Kevin Hart is headlining the “Now Playing” Concert on the first night. The festival will be on July 2 – July 5 in New Orleans, La.
“On the heels of the ESSENCE Festival’s epic 20th anniversary celebration in 2014, we’re delighted to announce a selection of the best artists and biggest names in entertainment who will take the stage at the Superdome this summer,” Essence President Michelle Ebanks said in a press release.
“From first-time Festival performer Kendrick Lamar to return appearances from fan favorites like Kevin Hart, Common and Mary J. Blige, the ESSENCE Festival offers the definitive entertainment and cultural experience for our passionate ESSENCE community every Fourth of July weekend,” she added.
This past weekend’s Essence Festival surpassed its record setting attendance of last year’s 543,000 attendees by 7,000. At the 20th anniversary of the famed festival, more than 550,000 people attended and saw various performances, activities, and speakers throughout the Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans.
“Through a unique combination of entertainment and empowerment programming, the ESSENCE Festival has become the place where we come together to revel in culture and connect to our community,” said ESSENCE Communications President Michelle Ebanks. “In recognition of our 20-year milestone, we are tremendously proud to have offered more curated content than ever before—live in New Orleans for our more than 550,000 festival-goers and available digitally on multiple screens for our ESSENCE community of 11.5 million.”
There were more than 80 performers including such dignitaries as Prince, Mary J. Blige, Lionel Richie, Robin Roberts, Alicia Keys, Steve Harvey and Rev. Al Sharpton.