For thirteen years, Black women in Hollywood have gathered in Los Angeles to not only celebrate each other’s achievements in cinema, but to also provide a safe space for women of color in an industry that continues to lack diversity.

And now for the first time ever, ESSENCE is pulling back the curtain on how our team creates the magical event, set for Thursday afternoon inside the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

This year, ESSENCE is honoring Emmy Award-winning actress Niecy Nash; Queen & Slim director Melina Matsoukas; actress Lashana Lynch; and the trailblazing cast of Pose along with its co-executive producer, Janet Mock. The event will be hosted by The Talk co-host, Eve.

In episode one of Inside Black Women in Hollywood, we see the team behind the event, sitting at a boardroom table last September. They’ve gathered to brainstorm how to make this year’s luncheon special, and also to formalize the 2020 nominees.

“We’d like to have our nominees secured,” Jovanca Maitland, ESSENCE’s Director of Live Events and Experiential, said to start the meeting. “We don’t want to look like we’re following behind. We always want to look like we’re leading.”

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – FEBRUARY 23: Editor in Chief at Essence Magazine Vanessa K. De Luca, Quvenzhane Wallis, Yara Shahidi, Aja Naomi King, Danielle Brooks, Shonda Rhimes, Vicky Jeudy, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Tracee Ellis Ross, President of Essence Communications Michelle Ebanks, Issa Rae, Janelle Monae, Angela Bassett, Diahann Carroll, Alfre Woodard and Loretta Devine at Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 23, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Essence)

ESSENCE’s Entertainment Director Cori Murray explained how the event came to be in the first place.

“At the time when we started, there was a magazine called Premiere, and Premiere had an issue called the Women in Hollywood issue,” she detailed. “And it was our former editor-in-chief Vanessa DeLuca who said one day, ‘Hey, we should do this as a luncheon. We should really look at our audience…and really start to celebrate them.”

Kelly Rowland attends the 2019 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards Luncheon

Murray added that after the “outpouring of love that came out of that first event, [it] really let us know that Black women were starving for this recognition.”

Check out episode two of Inside Black Women in Hollywood when it premieres Wednesday, February 12 on