Alfre Woodard’s Sistahs’ Soirée Looks To ‘Foster Camaraderie, Not Competition’ Among Black Women
Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for ESSENCE

Earlier this week, stars like Janelle Monáe and KiKi Layne gathered in the Hollywood Hills to celebrate Black women at actress Alfre Woodard’s Sistahs’ Soirée, now in its 11th year.

The annual event, which takes place ahead of the Oscars, is a chance for Woodard and others to celebrate “women who have been nominated in the acting category by the academy as well as those who, in a perfect world, should have been.”

The New York Times went inside the soirée this year, where Black actresses are encouraged to “foster camaraderie, not competition.”

“It’s important to me that when we hear our sisters’ names, we think good thoughts and feel protective of them so that we don’t get into that bogus sense of competition that the business wants to put you in by saying, ‘Too bad there’s only three roles for black women this year,’ and then they send everybody from KiKi Layne to Cicely Tyson up for the same role,” Woodard said.

The Clemency actress added that the soirée was launched to create real support for women in an industry that is very slowly inching toward diversity.

Pointing to Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o as an example, Woodard said that it wasn’t until her turn in Us that Nyong’o landed a leading role.

“She is still the great mahogany hope, but you’ve seen Lupita more on magazine covers than you have onscreen. Every time out, Lupita is fabulous, but look at what she’s done since she won that Oscar and then look at the opportunities of a Scarlett or a Charlize.”

Woodard added, “If there’s 100 roles in a year for women on film, we should be up for 99 of those roles. We’ll let the Cates have the queens of England.”

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