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Previously produced as a star-studded invite-only luncheon and building on over a decade of providing platforms to ensure Black women “receive their flowers” for their many contributions to Hollywood and global culture, the 14th annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Awards will return as a virtual experience open to the public for the first time ever. This year’s event will stream on Thursday, April 22, 2021 from 7PM-10PM EST on essencestudios.com and essence.com. The 2021 event theme, “Mastering Our Stories,” will focus on the resiliency of Black women in Hollywood through the years—including during the unprecedented pandemic.
Since 2008, the highly-anticipated Oscar week experience has honored a total of 65 Black actresses, directors, producers, writers, costume designers and more, unapologetically spotlighting some of the most renowned and accomplished women at the forefront of the film, television and creative industries. This year’s stellar roster of honorees include:
EGOT WINNER, PRODUCER & ENTREPRENEUR
GRAMMY, EMMY & TONY AWARD-WINNING and OSCAR-NOMINATED ACTRESS, SINGER & PRODUCER
EMMY AWARD-WINNING ACTRESS & PRODUCER
WRITER, ACTRESS & SHOWRUNNER
GOLDEN GLOBE WINNER, OSCAR-NOMINATED ACTRESS &
Actress, producer and 2015 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood honoree Laverne Cox will host the virtual ceremony, with actress Storm Reid hosting the event red carpet and Andra Day performing. Presenters include: comedian/actress Leslie Jones, actor Yahya Abdul Mateen II, activist Tarana Burke and director Kasi Lemmons. A variety of voices will also pay tribute to the honorees, including: Danny Glover, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Janelle Monae, Billy Porter, Colman Domingo, Donald Glover, Danielle Brooks, Chloe & Halle Bailey, Algee Smith, Margaret Avery, Barbara Broccoli, Natasha Lyonne, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Sara Haines, Meghan McCain
“ESSENCE has demonstrated our commitment to highlighting the power and resiliency of Black women for 50 years, and part of that has included creating opportunities to uplift and recognize each other when no one else would,” said Latraviette D. Smith-Wilson, ESSENCE Chief Strategy & Engagement Officer. “In a world where, finally, the needs and contributions of Black women are increasingly – though not always sustainably – being acknowledged in new ways, ESSENCE’s platforms, such as Black Women in Hollywood, remain unparalleled cultural forums that uniquely convene us in celebration and encouragement of each other and in recognition of the perseverance, fortitude, grace and innovation that have been required on our journeys. ESSENCE is incredibly proud to celebrate all our Black Women in Hollywood honorees for their immense talent and achievements, as well as for being a voice for Black women everywhere in ways that may not always be apparent and in rooms where we may not always be present. We see you. We hear you. We honor you.”
The ESSENCE Oscar week activities will culminate on Friday, April 23, with the second-annual ESSENCE House: Hollywood Edition, hosted by actress Storm Reid. The virtual event will feature a curated schedule of conversations with some of Hollywood’s most notable thought leaders from both in front of and behind the camera.
“Every year, we start our planning for ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood with one important question: What stories amplified Black women’s experiences?” said Cori Murray, ESSENCE Deputy Editor and co-producer of Black Women in Hollywood since its inception. “This year’s honorees and their individual projects have helped reframe and expand the narrative of Black women’s joy, pain, challenges and triumphs on screen that have allowed so many of us to see pieces of our own lives within. With the added layer of the pandemic, these master storytellers have kept us sane and more importantly, seen.”
ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood and ESSENCE Hollywood House are presented by Ford and sponsored by L’Oréal Paris.