Aunjanue Ellis’ road to becoming one of this year’s ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood honorees is a beautiful one, to say the least. Born in San Francisco and raised on her grandmother’s farm in Mississippi, Ellis attended Tougaloo College – an HBCU – before transferring to the private Ivy League institution Brown University. It was there that she got her start in acting, appearing in a student play. She then enrolled in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to further hone her skills as a thespian.

Ellis has cultivated an acting career spanning nearly 30 years. Since 1995, she has appeared in countless films and television programs, and has been nominated for several awards – including an Oscar, Golden Globe, two Primetime Emmys, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards.

This year has been a phenomenal one for Ellis, beginning with her Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Oracene “Brandy” Price in King Richard, alongside Will Smith. Now, only three months into the calendar year, Ellis will be honored at the 2022 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards.

Take a look at 8 of her past performances that took our breath away.

The 2022 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards is sponsored by Coca-Cola, Ford, Disney’s Onyx Collective, SmartWater and Warner Brothers Television Group.