If there were ever a time to believe in magic, the 10th anniversary of the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards was it.
The annual gala left the Beverly Wilshire Hotel glinting in black girl magic as luminaries gathered together to pay tribute to this year’s honorees: breakthrough award winner and Oscar nominee Janelle Monaé, vanguard award winner and Insecure creator Issa Rae, shining star award winner and Birth of a Nation darling Aja Naomi King and generation next award winner and Black-ish star Yara Shahidi.
For guests, the night was an opportunity to revel in the bonds of friendship.
“It feels good,” host Gabrielle Union said on the red carpet. “I mean, if I had to leave just after the carpet and I’ve seen so many of my girls that I love, that I’ve literally grown up with, my night would be made. But the fact that I get to come back and host, you know after you know receiving the fierce and fearless award four years ago that completely changed my life, it’s an honor.”
“This is the moment where we are rejuvenated,” Orange is the New Black actress Danielle Brooks added. “And we all need that because what we do for a living is giving of ourselves and this is just a moment for our sisters really to refuel us.”
Much of that refueling came in the form of praise for one another.
“I have to acknowledge them and their beautiful work because they have not only shown us their art but their hearts,” King said. “Thank you, Janelle, for sharing with us the depth of your soul and thank you, Issa, for giving us insight into the scope of all our experiences and thank you, Yara, for your beautiful battle cry.”
King admitted that she shied away from the spotlight at first, but said the network of black women in Hollywood helped reinforce her sense of belonging.
“I have everything I need because … I have all of you.”
Monaé echoed King, saying, “It always feels like a huge honor to be recognized and affirmed and acknowledged by your first tribe, my first tribe: black women.”
The Moonlight star went on to shine a light on the issue of representation — and how films like Moonlight and Hidden Figures are helping expand how black people are depicted on-screen.
Source: USA Today | Jaleesa M. Jones