Previously produced as an invitation-only luncheon, the 14th annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards will be a virtual experience this year, open to the public for the first time.
Actress and producer Laverne Cox, a 2015 Essence Black Women in Hollywood honoree, will host the event. The event theme, “Mastering Our Stories,” will focus on the resiliency of Black women in Hollywood through the years -- including during the pandemic.
“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,” Latraviette D. Smith-Wilson, Essence chief strategy and engagement officer, said in a statement.
“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.”
Since 2008, the Oscar-week event has honored 65 Black actresses, directors, producers, writers, costume designers and more who are at the forefront of the film, television and creative industries.
The Essence Oscar week activities will culminate on April 23 with the second annual Essence House: Hollywood Edition, hosted by actress Storm Reid. The virtual event will feature conversations with some of Hollywood’s top players 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, a monthly lifestyle magazine covering fashion, beauty, entertainment, and culture, was first published in 1970.
The 2021 Black Women in Hollywood Awards event will stream on April 22 from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. ET on essencestudios.com and essence.com.