On Saturday, Chief Content & Creative Officer MoAnA Luu kicked off the first day of the Wealth & Power segment of this year’s ESSENCE Festival of Culture.
Following a memorable opening video montage from Disney, who is also celebrating 50 years of Walt Disney World this year, Luu kicked of the day’s programming with a look back some of the most unforgettable cover moments of the last five decades.
“If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you’re going!” she said, before taking viewers through a dazzling visual timeline featuring some of ESSENCE’s most memorable cover women (and even a few men).
Nostalgia was imminent as Luu perused through so many bygone eras and cultural milestones, starting with the magazine’s iconic first issue, in May of 1970, featuring cover star Barbara Cheeseborough.
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Of course, it wasn’t all about the present. Afterall, you can’t celebrate 50 years of ESSENCE without also celebrating the brand’s history-making forray into the present.
In May 2020, ESSENCE celebrated its 50th anniversary with cover star, Naomi Campbell. This print issue marked another publishing first for the magazine, it was created 100 percent digitally—even the cover was shot by Campbell with her own iPhone due to the pandemic.
“It was a very special honor and unusual experience for me to be able to shoot and style my own cover for ESSENCE’s 50th anniversary issue,” Campbell said about the experience. “While it was a sad reminder for me of all the people in media and production who are not able to work due to the coronavirus, it also brought me hope and encouragement to know that our people and our infrastructures are resilient.”
Now, as ESSENCE delivers its first-ever virtual ESSENCE Festival, it’s clear the event’s “Unstoppable” theme is more than just a four-syllable word. It’s a reflection on what it means to power through against the odds, against a pandemic, with an unshakable spirit of Black ingenuity.
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