40 Women Essence Loves

Sisters with Voices

As Black women, we have a unique legacy of excellence that the following women have undoubtedly helped to create. From concert stages, all the way to the White House, Black women we love can be found everywhere. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, these women deserve a standing ovation for their many outstanding accomplishments and inspirational endeavors in the fields of fashion, entertainment, politics, and beyond.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah has paved the way for future generations of female media moguls and entrepreneurs.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s historic poem “Still I Rise” inspired black women across the world to overcome adversity and achieve greatness. This is just one of the many reasons why we love her so.

Diahann Carroll

Diahann Carroll’s various successes in film, theater, and music inspire us all to live out our dreams to the fullest!

Halle Berry

Halle Berry’s Academy Award win for Best Actress made her the first Black woman to do so. For that reason, she will always be in our hearts.

Michelle Obama

We adore our First Lady for epitomizing great style and being a positive role model for Black women nationwide.

Diana Ross

No one can deny that Diana Ross is one of the most legendary divas of our time.She is a constant reminder that “ain’t no mountain high enough” to keep us from achieving our dreams!

Mary J. Blige

MJB’s heartfelt lyrics and passionate music is one reason why this Queen of Hip Hop Soul will always reign supreme in our eyes.

Susan Rice

Susan Rice has used her power and voice to stand up for our country as a faithful civic servant.


Sade’s timeless music has been on heavy rotation since we first fell in love with her in the early 80’s.


Mo’Nique’s confident persona, hilarious sense of humor, and superb acting skills are just a few reasons why she is one of our favorite Black women.

Susan L. Taylor

As the former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, Susan L. Taylor served as an ambassador for Black women, encouraging us to connect with our spirituality and live with passion and purpose.

Tina Turner

Tina Turner is a true ageless beauty with a body to die for who rocks the stage like no other performer in our lifetime!

Beverly Johnson

Beverly Johnson was the first Black model to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine, making her a role model and champion of equal rights in the fashion world.

Grace Jones

To this day, we love Grace Jones’ fearless audacity in crafting her unique look and as a performer and talented vocalist.


Beyonce’ came on the scene encouraging us all to become a “Survivor” and her upbeat tunes always keep us moving and grooving!

Pam Grier

Pam Grier’s role as the iconic Foxy Brown had us all rocking our afros with gleaming pride, proudly professing to be “a whole lotta woman!”

Serena Williams

On and off the tennis court, Serena Williams is always a champion and on top of her game.

Whitney Houston

This Jersey diva is definitely one of our favorite vocalists of all time. Her prominence in the music world enabled several Black female artists to follow in her footsteps.

Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks has broken down barriers in the modeling world, proving to be more than just a pretty face.


Her edgy fashion sense and empowering, upbeat music are reasons why she has icon status in our eyes.

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Alicia Keys

We are totally in love with Alicia Keys’ talent as a pianist and singer.

Kerry Washington

Washington is a talented actress Broadway and on the big screen, who also has an elegant sense of fashion that we have grown to adore.

Robin Roberts

Waking up to Robin Roberts on Good Morning America everyday, provides a daily reminder of how strong and beautiful Black women indeed are!

Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell is a timeless beauty who has graced runways worldwide and broken barriers in the world of fashion modeling.

Wendy Williams

Her unique, over-the-top personality and flair make Wendy Williams one of our most favorite talk show and radio hosts!

Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams is a prime example of how Black women are capable of a dramatic comeback. We love her for being bold and beautiful!

Erykah Badu

Erykah’s unique neo-soul music and eclectic fashion statements make her one of the top women we have grown to love.


Talk about talented! After a long career as a successful fashion model, Iman is now an accessories designer and beauty entrepreneur.

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah has reigned in the areas of music,acting and modeling.By creating her cosmetics line, CoverGirl Queen Collection, she has given Black women yet another reason to be beautiful!

Thelma Golden

As Director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Thelma Golden encourages us all to preserve our precious and upstanding legacy as Black women.

Jada Pinkett- Smith

Not only is she simply gorgeous, but Jada Pinkett-Smith encourages other Black women to see their inner and outer beauty as well.

Jill Scott

Jill Scott’s success as a vocalist and actress is truly a prime example of living life like it’s Golden!

Sherri Shepherd

Sherri Shepherd is a strong, Black woman whose presence on daytime television we admire and adore.

Janet Jackson

Her impeccable dance moves, iconic music, and talented acting skills have made Janet Jackson one of our favorite artists of all time.

Gabrielle Union

Not only do we adore Gabrielle’s standout smile and dimples, but she has an inner glow and resilience that is truly unmatched.

Nia Long

Nia Long is a radiant beauty on and off the big screen, whose fashion sense we secretly envy.

Tracy Ellis Ross

Tracy Ellis Ross is a leading actress whose sense of humor and fashion truly makes a statement.

Angela Bassett

ESSENCE 2011 Black Women In Hollywood honoree Angela Bassett is a woman we love because of her amazing biographical film roles portraying real life women in African American culture.

Tisha Campbell

We all remember and loved Tisha Campbell as Gina on the hit series Martin.She sure kept us laughing!

Sanaa Lathan

Sanaa Lathan is truly talented, appearing as an actress on Broadway and the big screen.We think Sanaa is totally gorgeous too!