Entering the 2010’s was yet another remarkable decade for ESSENCE. We’ve elected the nation’s first Black president, and we’re at the forefront of covering what Black excellence truly is. The new decade meant hope for a better tomorrow, with Barack and Michelle Obama leading the charge.
In March 2010, the magazine placed the Obama’s on the cover of the magazine. At this point, President Barack Obama had already served two years in office, during which he had embarked on a transformative journey for the nation. His historic election as the first African American president in 2008 had resonated deeply with the American public, and his policies and actions during those initial years were marked by a commitment to positive change. Notably, the passage of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, was among his significant achievements during this period. ESSENCE’s decision to spotlight the Obama family in 2010 was a testament to the enduring impact of his presidency and the hopeful spirit he had brought to the nation, particularly for African Americans who saw him as a symbol of progress and possibility.
In August of the following year, the spotlight in Hollywood shone brightly on the incomparable Viola Davis. ESSENCE magazine’s decision to feature her on their cover during this pivotal moment was both timely and profound. Viola Davis had already established herself as a formidable talent, captivating audiences with her exceptional performances on stage and screen. Her appearance on the cover underscored her status as a rising star and a symbol of empowerment for the Black community and beyond. Furthermore, this feature aligned perfectly with the release of The Help, a critically acclaimed film in which Viola Davis delivered a breathtaking performance as Aibileen Clark, a character that resonated deeply with viewers and earned her deserved acclaim. In this way, Viola Davis’s ESSENCE cover was not just a celebration of her remarkable career but also a testament to the power of storytelling in addressing important societal issues, particularly those related to race and social justice.
Fast-forwarding to July 2014, ESSENCE magazine released a highly anticipated collectors’ issue that had a special and unique appeal to both its female and male readership. This particular issue was dedicated to the cast of Think Like A Man, a film adaptation of Steve Harvey’s popular book, and it celebrated entertainment, romance, and humor in a big way. The decision to create dual covers for this issue was a clever and strategic move, showcasing the film’s ensemble cast and how big of a cultural moment the film was.
The ladies’ cover featured some of the most talented and beloved actresses in Hollywood, including Megan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Lala Anthony, and Regina Hall. These women were celebrated not only for their beauty but also for their incredible acting skills and contributions to the entertainment industry. Their presence on the cover reinforced ESSENCE’s commitment to showcasing strong and accomplished Black women in the world of entertainment.
On the flip side, the men’s cover featured a lineup of charismatic and accomplished actors, including Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Terrance J, Romany Malco, and Will Packer. These men were not only celebrated for their on-screen charisma but also for their involvement in bringing the film to life. Kevin Hart, in particular, was a comedic powerhouse and a rising star in the comedy world, and his presence on the cover added an element of humor and relatability to the issue.
This ESSENCE collectors’ issue was a reflection of the magazine’s ability to capture the essence (pun intended) of cultural moments in the African American community and the broader world of entertainment. By featuring dual covers with the talented and charismatic cast of Think Like A Man, ESSENCE recognized and celebrated the film’s significance as a cultural touchstone, as well as the star power of its ensemble cast. It demonstrated the magazine’s commitment to showcasing Black excellence in the entertainment industry and its ability to resonate with both female and male readers.
Three years later, in 2017, ESSENCE magazine featured the multi-talented and highly decorated singer-songwriter, Kandi Burruss-Tucker, on its cover. Burruss-Tucker had already carved a niche for herself in the music industry as a member of the popular girl group Xscape and as a prolific songwriter. However, her appearance on the cover of ESSENCE marked a pivotal moment in her career and personal life.
Burruss-Tucker was widely recognized for her appearances on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, a reality TV show that showcased the lives and aspirations of affluent women in Atlanta. Her time on the show has allowed viewers to witness her dynamic personality, business acumen, and her ability to balance multiple roles and responsibilities. Moreover, the year prior, she had opened her first family restaurant, Old Lady Gang in 2016.
The timing of this feature was even sweeter as it coincided with talks of the highly anticipated Xscape reunion. The news of their potential reunion generated considerable excitement and nostalgia among fans.
In 2018, as the end of the decade approached, ESSENCE magazine created a poignant full-circle moment by featuring the iconic former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, on its cover, this time in a solo spotlight. Although the Obama administration had concluded two years earlier, the impact of the first family continued to resonate deeply with the American public, and their mission to inspire hope in the nation remained undeterred even under a new president. Michelle Obama’s presence on the cover symbolized not only her enduring influence but also her commitment to making a positive difference in the world.
In this feature, Michelle Obama opened up about her experiences during her time in the White House, providing readers with an intimate glimpse into her life as the First Lady. Her candid insights and reflections offered a unique perspective on the responsibilities, challenges, and triumphs associated with that high-profile role. Moreover, Michelle Obama shared wisdom about what it takes to find one’s own “Barack,” emphasizing the importance of partnership, mutual support, and shared values in a successful and fulfilling relationship.
What made this ESSENCE cover even more remarkable was the exclusive first look at her newly released book at the time, “Becoming.” The book, a deeply personal memoir, delved into Michelle Obama’s life journey, her experiences in the White House, and her thoughts on identity, family, and leadership. Becoming would go on to become a literary sensation, resonating with readers around the world and inspiring countless individuals to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact on their communities.
ESSENCE’s decision to feature Michelle Obama once again on its cover in 2018 encapsulated her role as a source of inspiration and empowerment for women and individuals of all backgrounds, reaffirming ESSENCE’s commitment to showcasing influential and trailblazing figures within the African American community and beyond.