At the 11th Annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood pre-Oscar luncheon, Danai Gurira had a full circle experience that had her soul cup runneth over. 

The 40-year-old shared the profound story of how amazing it was to once meet the former ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief, Susan L. Taylor at the age of nine. The Walking Dead actress detailed the words of affirmation Taylor poured into her during a visit to Zimbabwe and expressed how the message helped the star remain still as she navigated the highs and lows of life.

“How would I ever [have] known that day 31 years ago that one day I’d be honored by the very same magazine the stunning woman with the long braids was in charge of,” Gurira said. “The time she took, to look a little African girl in the eye and dispel the lie and implant the truth. That time resulted into something that grew inside of me that kept me aware that no matter what the world threw at me, I was beautiful.”

As the room swelled with the joy and triumph in celebration of Black Girl Magic, one of the stars of the blockbuster film, Black Panther, continued. 

“Take that little girl’s face in your hands, look her deep in the eyes with appreciation and tell her that she’s beautiful. Tell her of her greatness, she needs you to. Her 40-year-old self will thank you for it as I do ESSENCE today.”

Gurira was honored at the pre-Oscars event alongside history-making actress and writer Lena Waithe, Tessa Thompson and Girls Trip breakout star, Tiffany Haddish. 


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