Black Excellence: A Look Back At All of ESSENCE's Black Women in Hollywood Honorees

Each February, since 2008, ESSENCE has hosted an exclusive pre-Oscars soiree to honor the best and brightest Black women in Hollywood. From Diahann Carroll to Cecily Tyson, Oprah Winfrey to Lupita Nyong'o, the annual luncheon is that time of the year where we can celebrate the women who illuminate positive images of us, on-screen or behind-the-scenes. As we gear up for the 10th annual soiree on February 23, we're taking a look back at all our honorees through the years.

Yolanda Sangweni Jan, 25, 2016

1 of 31

Will Smith presented wife Jada Pinkett Smith with the Power Award at the very first Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2008.

2 of 31 Getty Image

Halle Berry and Taraji P. Henson were both honored at the 2nd annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2009. Berry received the Power Award and Henson the Star To Watch award.

3 of 31 Hiltron Bailey

Beyond the Lights director Gina Prince-Bythehood was honored with the Visionary Award at the 2nd annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon.

4 of 31

The iconic actress was honored with the Legend Award at the 2nd Annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2009.

5 of 31 queen latifah, black women in hollywood luncheon

Queen Latifah was honored with the Power Award at the 3rd Annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2010.

6 of 31 Jennifer Cooper

Saldana was honored with the Star to Watch Award at the 3rd Annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2010.

7 of 31 Jennifer Cooper

Blige was honored as Songstress of the Year at the Third Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in 2010.

8 of 31

The iconic actress silenced the audience with a profound speech as she accepted the Legend Award at the 3rd Annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in 2010.

9 of 31 Jennifer Cooper

Sidibe was honored with the Breakthrough Performance Award at the 3rd Annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon.

10 of 31

Davis was honored at the 4th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2011.

11 of 31 Jennifer Cooper

Devine was honored at the 4th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2011. Her notes for aspiring actresses: “Be on point! Be on time!”

12 of 31 Jennifer Cooper

The iconic actress was honored at ESSENCE’s 2011 Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon.

13 of 31

Hudson brought a special guest when she was honored at the 4th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2011.

14 of 31

Spencer was honored with the Breakthrough Performance Award at the 5th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood event in 2012.

15 of 31

Patton was honored with the Shining Star Award at ESSENCE’s 5th Annual Black Women in Hollywood event in 2012.

16 of 31

Washington accepts her Vanguard Award at ESSENCE’s 5th Annual Black Women in Hollywood event in 2012.

17 of 31

Nichelle Nichols helps honoree Grier on to the stage to accept her Legend Award at the 5th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood event in 2012.

18 of 31

Shonda Rhimes was honored with the Visionary Award at ESSENCE’s 5th Annual Black Women in Hollywood event in 2012.

19 of 31 Getty Images/Steve Granitz

Gabrielle Union

20 of 31 Steve Granitz/WireImage

Woodard was honored at the 6th annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon in 2013.

21 of 31 Michael Rowe

Wallis accepted the Breakthrough Performance Award award at the 6th annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon in 2013.

22 of 31 Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The British actress received the Lincoln Shining Star award at the 6th annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon in 2013.

23 of 31 Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Winfrey brought several graduates of The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa when she was honored with the Power Award at the 6th annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon in 2013.

24 of 31 Michael Rowe

The 12 Years a Slave star was honored with the Best Breakthrough award at the 7th annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon in 2013.

25 of 31 Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Selma director Ava DuVernay was honored with the Visionary award at the 7th annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon in 2014.

26 of 31 Michael Rowe

Oprah Winfrey and Sidney Poitier congratulate Motion Picture Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs (right) who was honored with the Trailblazer award for her leadership in the film on stage at the 7th annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood luncheon in 2014.

27 of 31 Tommaso Boddi

King was honored with the Fierce and Fearless award at the 8th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2015.

28 of 31

The cast of Orange Is the New Black was honored at the 8th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood awards in 2015. 

29 of 31 Michael Rowe

The Belle and Beyond the Lights star received the Lincoln Breakthrough of the Year award at the 8th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2015. 

30 of 31 EW

The legendary costume designer (Selma, Being Mary Jane, Malcolm X, and many more) was honored with the Visionary award at the 8th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2015.

31 of 31

At the 2016 Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross took home the Fierce & Fearless award, iconic director, producer and actress Debbie Allen was honored with the Legend award, and entertainment attorney Nina Shaw was presented with the Lincoln Power award.