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News Briefs

ESSENCE Announces Black Women in Hollywood and Hollywood House Awards

Every year, the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood event asks one important question: What stories amplified Black women’s experiences?

Shining the spotlight on Black women artists

ESSENCE has announced the honorees for its highly-anticipated 14th annual Black Women in Hollywood. It also has feature programming for its 2nd annual Hollywood House. Founded 50 years ago, ESSENCE is the leading and only 100% Black-owned media, technology and commerce company at scale dedicated to Black women and communities. It provides platforms to ensure Black creatives “receive their flowers” for their contributions to Hollywood and global culture.

This yearly can’t-miss event for Black Hollywood has taken place during Oscars Week since 2008. The Black Women in Hollywood experience spotlights some of the most renowned and accomplished women in the film, television and creative industry. It has now honored 65 Black actresses, directors, producers, writers, costume designers and more. This year’s stellar roster of honorees include EGOT winner, producer and entrepreneur Whoopi Goldberg (The View, The Stand); GRAMMY, EMMY and TONY Award-winning and OSCAR-nominated actress, singer and producer Cynthia Erivo (Genius: Aretha, Harriet); EMMY Award-winning actress/producer Zendaya (Malcolm and Marie, Euphoria); writer, actress and showrunner Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You); and Golden Globe winner, Oscar-nominated actress and GRAMMY-nominated singer Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), who will also perform. Actress and producer Laverne Cox (Promising Young Woman and Disclosure). Presenters will be announced at a later date.

Looking backward and forward

The virtual event will air Thursday, April 22, 2021 from 7-10 P.M. (ET) on and In previous years, it has been an invite-only luncheon. This year’s theme is “Mastering Our Stories.” The event will focus on the resiliency of Black women in Hollywood through the years—including during the unprecedented pandemic.

“ESSENCE has demonstrated our commitment to highlighting the power and resiliency of Black women for 50 years, and part of that has included creating opportunities to uplift and recognize each other when no one else would,” said Latraviette D. Smith-Wilson, ESSENCE Chief Strategy & Engagement Officer.

“In a world where finally the needs and contributions of Black women are increasingly – though not always sustainably – being acknowledged in new ways, ESSENCE’s platforms such as Black Women in Hollywood remain unparalleled cultural forums that uniquely convene us in celebration and encouragement of each other and in recognition of the perseverance, fortitude, grace and innovation that have been required on our journeys. ESSENCE is incredibly proud to celebrate all our Black Women in Hollywood honorees for their immense talent and achievements, as well as for being a voice for Black women everywhere in ways that may not always be apparent and in rooms where we may not always be present. We see you and we hear you. We honor you.”

Amplifying voices

“Every year, we start our planning for ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood with one important question: What stories amplified Black women’s experiences?” said Cori Murray, ESSENCE Deputy Editor and co-producer of Black Women in Hollywood since its creation. “This year’s honorees and their individual projects have helped reframe and expand the narrative of Black women’s joy, pain, challenges and triumphs on screen that have allowed so many of us to see pieces of our own lives within. With the added layer of the pandemic, these master storytellers have kept us sane and more importantly, seen.”

In addition, ESSENCE’s Oscar week activities will culminate with its second annual ESSENCE Hollywood House, which will be held on Friday, April 23. ESSENCE Hollywood House provides compelling and engaging live content aimed at sparking meaningful conversation and action to drive more inclusion in Hollywood. It aims to provide an opportunity for Black creatives – aspiring and established – to educate, collaborate and empower one another with a purpose.

The experience features thought leaders, industry stakeholders and members of the creative community. This includes actors, directors, writers, showrunners, studio heads and others. Participants will lead a curated schedule of interactive conversations, virtual panels, masterclasses, fireside chats and more. Actress Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time, The Invisible Man) will host. (Reid will also host the Black Women in Hollywood red carpet pre-show.) Presenters will be announced at a later date. To register or for more details, visit

Stay connected

ESSENCE’s upcoming May/June 2021 issue (on newsstands in April) will feature its annual Black Women in Hollywood package. Stay tuned to for highlights and behind-the-scenes access to the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards and ESSENCE Hollywood House. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @essence #BlackWomeninHollywood. Join in the discussion on Facebook.

ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood and ESSENCE Hollywood Houseare presented by Ford and sponsored by L’Oréal Paris.

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