Essence Magazine Presents 10th Anniversary “Black Women in Hollywood Awards & Gala”

Oscar-Week Event to Honor Hollywood’s “Next Generation”: Janelle Monáe, Issa Rae, Aja Naomi King and Yara Shahidi

Time Inc.’s Essence, the preeminent brand for African-American women, will commemorate the 10th anniversary of its esteemed “Black Women in Hollywood Awards”—the annual Oscar-week celebration at the forefront of spotlighting Hollywood’s most creative and accomplished visionaries. Shifting from a daytime luncheon to a resplendent evening gala for the first time, the red carpet ceremony will be held at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, CA, on Thursday, February 23, 2017.2801496_essence

The Awards & Gala will honor Hollywood’s “Next Generation”—young women who are excelling and elevating their crafts—including triple-threat actress/musician/entertainer Janelle Monáe (Breakthrough Award); groundbreaking actress/writer/producer Issa Rae (Vanguard Award); standout actress Aja Naomi King (Lincoln Shining Star Award); and dynamic actress Yara Shahidi (Generation Next). Actress/Producer Gabrielle Union will serve as the program’s host.

For the past decade, the “Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards” have paid homage to our modern image-makers—both in front of the camera and behind the scenes,” said Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca. “This past year has been an exceptional one for diversity in film and television, and with the incredible contributions of Janelle, Issa, Aja and Yara, it is fitting that our 10th anniversary will honor the future of Hollywood and its continued steps on the path to inclusion.”

Also for the first time, internationally acclaimed visual artist and filmmaker Mickalene Thomas will be infusing the event with her elaborate imagery celebrating the power of female beauty as a facet of women’s empowerment.

Since its inception in 2008, the “Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards” have honored some of the most cherished figures in the industry, including Oprah Winfrey, Lupita Nyong’o, Ava DuVernay, Halle Berry, Viola Davis, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Angela Bassett, Queen Latifah, Naomie Harris, Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Jennifer Hudson, Zoe Saldana, Alfre Woodard, Regina King, Gabrielle Union, Tracee Ellis Ross, Debbie Allen, Nina Shaw, Mary J. Blige, Gabourey Sidibe, Quvenzhané Wallis, Jurnee Smollett, Ruby Dee, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Loretta Devine, Mara Brock Akil, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ruth E. Carter, Nina Shaw, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Suzanne de Passe. Continue reading

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Presents Exclusive U.S. Broadcast Premiere of Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, February 21 on PBS During Black History Month

First Feature Documentary On The Author/Activist Features Exclusive Interviews With Dr. Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Common, Bill And Hillary Clinton, And Others

Year-Long #InspiringWomanPBS Online Campaign Launches This Week At pbs.org/americanmasters

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Dr. Maya Angelou on the set of “Oprah’s Master Class,” circa January 2011. Credit: OWN

Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” Dr. Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928-May 28, 2014) led a prolific life. As a singer, dancer, activist, poet and writer, she inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries. Best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Random House), she gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before. The first feature documentary about her life, American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, premieres nationwide Tuesday, February 21 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) during Black History Month as part of the 31st season of THIRTEEN‘s American Masters series. PBS Distribution will release the film on DVD the same day, with additional bonus features, and on Digital HD February 22. The film title is based on one of our favorite poems by Dr. Angelou, “Still I Rise” from her poetry collection And Still I Rise (Random House).

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Dr. Maya Angelou, circa late 70s/early 80s. Credit: Getty Images

MAYA ANGELOU

Dr. Maya Angelou is best known for her best-selling autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (Random House), photo taken November 3, 1971. Credit: © WF/AP/Corbis

With unprecedented access, filmmakers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack trace Dr. Angelou’s incredible journey, shedding light on the untold aspects of her life through never-before-seen footage, rare archival photographs and videos and her own words. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South and her early performing career (1957’s Miss Calypso album and Calypso Heat Wave film, Jean Genet’s 1961 play The Blacks) to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana and her many writing successes, including her inaugural poem for President Bill Clinton, American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise reveals hidden facets of her life during some of America’s most defining moments. The film also features exclusive interviews with Dr. Angelou, her friends and family, including (in alphabetical order) Diahann Carroll, actress; Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State; Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the U.S.’ Common, hip-hop artist/actor; Jules Feiffer, writer/cartoonist; Nikki Giovanni, writer; Louis Gossett, Jr., actor; Guy B. Johnson, Dr. Angelou’s son; Quincy Jones, musician/producer/composer; Robert Loomis, Dr. Angelou’s editor; Don Martin, dancer/opened for Dr. Angelou; Louise Meriwether, writer; Eugene Redmond, professor of English literature; Valerie Simpson, singer/songwriter; John Singleton, director; Cicely Tyson, actress; Alice Windom, friend/roommate in Ghana (1963-65); Oprah Winfrey, global media leader/philanthropist and Alfre Woodard, actress.

Photo of Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou, circa 1970. Credit: Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Dr. Maya Angelou called Sonoma, California, home in the late 70s/early 80s. Credit: Magnum

“It was a unique privilege to be the first filmmakers to tell Dr. Angelou’s full story and exciting to uncover stories that most people hadn’t heard,” said co-director and co-producer Bob Hercules.

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Louis Gossett, Jr., is interviewed in “American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.” He and Dr. Angelou were part of the casts of off-Broadway play “The Blacks” (1961) by Jean Genet and TV miniseries “Roots” (1977). Credit: © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders | Photo credit required at all times.

The film reflects on how the events of history, culture and the arts shaped Dr. Angelou’s life, and how she, in turn, helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism,” said co-director and co-producer Rita Coburn Whack.

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Dr. Maya Angelou. Credit: Getty Images

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Dr. Maya Angelou. Credit: Ron Groeper

Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou, San Francisco, CA, circa 1970. Credit: Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS. Courtesy of Caged Bird Legacy

It is bittersweet that Dr. Angelou takes her rightful place in the American Masters series posthumously,” said executive producer Michael Kantor, Co-Executive Producer and American Masters series Executive Producer. “We are fortunate that Bob and Rita captured these insightful interviews with her just prior to her death so we can all learn from her wisdom firsthand.” Continue reading

Stefani Saintonge Named as Winner of ESSENCE’s Black Women in Hollywood Short Film Contest

WINNER’S FILM WILL BE HIGHLIGHTED DURING ESSENCE’S STAR-STUDDED 7TH ANNUAL BLACK WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD LUNCHEON ON FEBRUARY 27TH

ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Event to Honor Lupita Nyong’o, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Ava Duvernay

ESSENCE And Tyler Perry Honor Outstanding Accomplishments In Cinema With A Special Celebration Of Black Men In Hollywood

INTIMATE DINNER REMEMBERS 2013 MILESTONE ACHIEVEMENTS AND INSPIRING MOMENTS ON CAMERA AND BEHIND THE SCENES

ESSENCE, the #1 media brand for African-American women, has named Stefani Saintonge as the winner of its first The Essence Black Women in Hollywood Short Film Contest: Spotlight On Our Journeys, it was announced today.

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An ESSENCE first, the Black Women in Hollywood Short Film Contest challenged entrants to present unique, refreshing visions of Black women—multidimensional portrayals that are different from the stereotypical and often negative images that respondents in a recent ESSENCE study said don’t reflect the totality of who they are. Last November, ESSENCE invited aspiring filmmakers to showcase their own inspiring images reflecting the truths and triumphs of Black women’s lives by entering the contest. Contest finalists were selected from an eclectic gathering of submissions by a team of ESSENCE editors. From there, ESSENCE’s Black Women in Hollywood Academy, featuring top industry tastemakers chose Saintonge as the winner—who will be recognized in the company of A-listers during the 7th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon held onFebruary 27, 2014. Saintonge will receive the Black Women in Hollywood Discovery Award. Saintonge’s journey will be chronicled on Essence.com, and a portion of her film will be shown at the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon.

The Black Women in Hollywood Academy featured Shonda Rhimes, creator and executive producer of hit shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal; actress Regina King; husband and wife producing team Mara Brock and Salim Akil; film director and writer Gina Prince Bythewood; producer Stephanie Allain; PEOPLE movie criticAlynda Wheat; director and editor-in-chief of Shadow and Act Tambay Obenson; filmmaker Ava DuVernay; director of development for 34th Street Films Amber Rasberry; and screenwriter and director Dee Rees. Continue reading