8 Lessons on Being Fly from ESSENCE's Cover Stars Debbie, Shonda, Mara, Ava and Issa

ESSENCE cover girls Debbie Allen, Shonda Rhimes, Mara Brock Akil, Ava DuVernay and Issa Rae are dropping all kinds of knowledge about life, love and seizing opportunities in our latest issue. Get your life from their words of wisdom.

ESSENCE.COM May, 06, 2015

1 of 8 Nino Muñoz

"How they see us, how dominant culture sees us, should not dictate or determine or drive our work our or worth"

2 of 8 Nino Muñoz

"With my current [relationship], we're in different fields and we support each other in our feelings. No accomplishment is better than the other. We're each other's cheerleaders."

3 of 8 Nino Muñoz

"We've been presented before as asexual or as whores. No, I'm a human being and human beings were made to be touched and have sex so that they could make more human beings. And I like sex! I certainly want to highlight it. I want our humanity in our sexuality."

4 of 8 Nino Muñoz

"I just began a systematic push that we were going to talk about sexuality equality. Listen, if you could shot someone in the face on television…I hope to God my child never shoots someone in the face, but I really hope she has some wonderful sex."

5 of 8 Nino Muñoz

"[My husband] reminds me I need to walk in that door and drop it. I'm not the director, I'm mom. As a mom and a wife, I do things that are my responsibility. I will come home from working 12-, 13-hour days and he'll say 'What's for dinner?' And then I have to pony up. I think my relationship has kept it real."

6 of 8 Nino Muñoz

"Since Selma, I'm not so focused on achievement—I'm not so focused on trying to be the best, because I feel very comfortable in my work now. I feel that Selma has opened me up because I feel like I'm strong enough and balanced enough to be able to do both—a good relationship and good work."

7 of 8 Nino Muñoz

"We still need more people behind the scenes, in the writers' rooms and executive positions. We still don't own a lot of stuff in this industry and that's what I want to see change."

8 of 8 Nino Muñoz

"I don't look at [Black women in TV]  as something to be feared. I look at it as an opportunity. It is wide open and for the taking."