ESSENCE will once again honor Black women who are groundbreakers and pioneers in the film and television industry at our 16th annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon.
This year’s event will highlight the contributions and accomplishments of actresses Sheryl Lee Ralph, Danielle Deadwyler, and Dominique Thorne, Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Freeform and Onyx Collective President Tara Duncan.
“For more than a decade and a half, ESSENCE has championed the Black Women in Hollywood Awards to commemorate the Black women who are the story makers, storytellers, story-doers, and story-sharers that cultivate the entertainment ecosystem that the world cherishes and loves deeply,” says Caroline Wanga, President and CEO of Essence Ventures, LLC. “We are privileged to have this sacred platform that illuminates the on-going accomplishments of Black women at our annual luncheon in its 16th year since inception.”
Honoree Sheryl Lee Ralph is experiencing a career renaissance at age 64, receiving multiple long-overdue awards and accolades for her role as Barbara Howard in ABC’s hit Quinta Brunson-led comedy Abbott Elementary and even recently sang “Lift Every Voice” just before the Super Bowl.
Danielle Deadwyler made headlines and won audiences’ hearts with her poignant portrayal of Mamie Till-Mobley, the grieving yet determined mother of slain teen Emmett Till in 2022’s TILL. Though she was criminally snubbed for an Academy Award Nomination, she will receive her flowers and recognition at this year’s luncheon.
Gina Prince-Bythewood has a long list of cultural classics and directorial achievements under her belt. But her work on last year’s Dahomey warrior epic The Woman King has stood out as a crowning achievement in her career, highlighting a lesser-known moment in diasporic history and providing a platform for Black actresses and behind-the-scenes creatives to showcase their immense talent and capabilities.
Dominique Thorne has stunned audiences with her performances in If Beale Street Could Talk and Judas and the Black Messiah. But her turn as Riri Williams, the whip-smart tech genius action star in 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and star of Marvel’s upcoming Ironheart has made her an icon for young Black girls everywhere.
As President of young adult cable platform Freeform and Disney’s culturally curated Hulu brand Onyx Collective, Tara Duncan has overseen the launch of the most-watched program in the network’s history (Cruel Summer) and won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Onyx Collective’s Questlove-produced Summer of Soul. As a pioneer of broadcast and streaming content, she is driving the culture of representation and unique storytelling on television media for the future.
“Whether the world acknowledges it or not, Black women are the CEOs of home, culture, and community and because of that role, when you engage with her, you engage with the Black community as a whole,” Wanga continued.
The 16th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon will take place Thursday, March 9.