Fly Recap: 10th Annual Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards & Gala Presented by The Lincoln Motor Company


ESSENCE, the preeminent brand for African-American women, proudly honored remarkable moments and performers in film and television at yesterday’s 10th annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Awards & Gala. Honoring Hollywood’s “Next Generation” the 2017 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood awards were presented to Janelle Monáe, Issa Rae, Aja Naomi King and Yara Shahidi.

Known as one of  Oscar week’s most exalted and star-studded events, the red carpet included celebrity appearances and guests such as Gabrielle Union, Shonda Rhimes, Viola Davis, Pharrell Williams, Common, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Laverne Cox, Alfre Woodard, Holly Robinson Pete, Sherri Shepard, Tyrese Gibson, Alfred Enoch, Letoya Luckett, Quvenzhane Wallis, Debbie Allen, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Loni Love, Margaret Avery amongst others. Cynthia Erivo offered a heart-wrenching solo performance between honoree acceptances.


Powerhouse actress Aja Naomi King was presented the Lincoln Shining Star Award by Viola Davis. Multi-talented singer, songwriter, actress, and model Janelle Monáe was presented the Breakthrough Award by Pharrell Williams. Issa Rae was presented the Vanguard Award by Debbie Allen and Yara Shahidi was presented the Generation Next Award by Tracee Ellis Ross. 

The ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Awards & Gala will be televised as an ESSENCE and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network special, airing on Sunday, March 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN.

The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards & Gala was presented by The Lincoln Motor Company and sponsored by AT&T, Coca-Cola, Colgate® Optic White®, GEICO, L’Oréal Paris, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Walmart.

Please visit for highlights and behind-the-scenes footage from the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards & Gala.  Follow Essence on Twitter @essenceonline #BlackWomenInHollywood and join in the discussion at

Photo Credit: Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Essence

More photos below.

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J.Period, Jesse Williams, Rhymefest, Xzibit & More Join Forces for ‘Rise Up!’ [New Music]

From Marvin Gaye to Sam Cooke to Bob Dylan and beyond, Civil Rights struggles have a rich history of connection to music. So it is, in the spirit of that tradition, J.PERIOD and Jesse Williams join forces with artists from The Playlist Retreat to create a new wave of music for a new movement with the release of RISE UP! Music Inspired by the EPIX Original Series America Divided. The first single from “Miranda (RISE UP!)” features an introduction from actor/activist Jesse Williams, with rappers Rhymefest & Xzibit posing provocative questions about the state of our nation over a J.PERIOD-produced beat. “We’re pointing fingers at each other and we’re missing the point…” Rhymefest begins. Unity, not division, is the solution for what ails our country—a fitting message in honor of what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 88th birthday earlier this week. 
Executive produced by Norman Lear, Shonda Rhimes, and Common, the EPIX Original docu-series America Divided features celebrity hosts including Jessie Williams (Senior Producer), America Ferreira, Rosario Dawson, Amy Poehler, and Zack Galifianakis investigating a wide range of social justice issues including criminal justice, immigration, housing and voting rights, and education. The series also forges the foundation of Jesse’s partnership with J.PERIOD, who composed the original theme song for the show.
RISE UP! pairs hip-hop icons including Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch, Posdnous (De La Soul), Young Guru, and DJ Jazzy Jeff; leading artist/activists including Aloe Blacc and Joss Stone; soulful voices including Raheem DeVaughn and Eric Roberson; and rising music stars from The Playlist Retreat including Mayda del Valle, Maimouna Youssef, Masego, Dayne Jordan, Stro Elliot, Tall Black Guy, POMO, and more.  
“In the process of progress,” states Jesse Williams, “We are reclaiming our best practices, heroes, and nomenclature. I am a proud producer of the America Divided docu-series and honored to work alongside producer and mixtape master, J.PERIOD, in creating a soul-sonic experience that is both homage and inspiration to the critical thinking that undergirds liberation movements of past, present, and future.” 
J.PERIOD’s most recent production, The Hamilton Mixtape, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums in December 2016. 
For more information about RISE UP! Music Inspired by the EPIX America Divided, follow J.PERIOD on Twitter @jperiodBK or visit for release details about this powerful collection of new music.
For more information about the original docu-series America Divided, executive produced by Norman Lear, Shonda Rhimes, and Common, visit:

Fly News: Rihanna, Shonda Rhimes, Gladys Knight and More To Be Honored at ‘Black Girls Rock!’ 2016

This year the dynamic BLACK GIRLS ROCK! movement, founded by Beverly Bond, celebrates its 10 year anniversary and its sixth televised broadcast on BET Networks.

In the midst of the momentous occasion, Rihanna is scheduled to receive the Rock Star Award at this year’s ceremony on BET. The chart topping singer, executive producer, fashion designer, actress, astute business entrepreneur and philanthropist will help illuminate the triumphs of brilliant Black women in an extraordinary night celebrating #BlackGirlMagic.

Joining the honoree list are the likes of: producer and writer Shonda Rhimes (Shot Caller Award), R&B legend Gladys Knight (Living Legend Award), The Walking Dead actress and Eclipsed playwright Danai Gurira (Star Power Award), award-winning actress and activist Amandla Stenberg (Young Gifted and Black Award), and Black Lives Matter founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi (Community Change Agent Award).

The official taping will take place on Friday, April 1, 2016 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ and the broadcast will premiere on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 8:00 P.M. ET/PT hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross.

Congrats to Rihanna and all of the honorees!

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Fly Person of The Week: Tracie Collins Wants To Bring More Awareness About Stage Play Diversity


A female entrepreneur in her own right, writer-producer-director Tracie Collins has been hard at work with more than four full-production stage plays under her belt, countless staring roles with Bay Area natives on her side, as they consistently cheer her on. But there’s only one problem — she still continues to stay stagnant on her journey to the top just because of her skin color. Sounds familiar? Indeed, it does — and Tracie wants to do something about the problem that not only she deals with on a daily basis, but all African-American women in the same field, and perhaps beyond.

Her purpose:

To make a difference for women of color behind the scenes in the arts to diversify what the world sees on-scene in mainstream media.

We recently spoke with Tracie about the issue at hand, natural hair success on the runway with Angolan model Maria Borges, female director/writer Shonda Rhimes and more.


Check out a few snippets of our interview below:

Why do you think your success and accolades is going unnoticed due to the color of your skin?
The power of the dollar in the black community is real! A great example is how a viral video about Pattie LaBelle’s pies have caused sell outs
across America—imagine if we supported black businesses like that across the board!
With the success of African-American female mainstream writers like: Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder), Zoanne Clack (Grey’s Anatomy) and Courtney Kemp Agboh (Power), how do you think the spotlight of other black female writers in stage play can be knowledge and brought to the forefront?  
The same way these other women have. Black women writers in theater are out there but media needs to wake up and pay attention. Stage is either where people start or where they go back to to brush up on there skills. Like Denzel Washington, Debbie Allen, Viola Davis just to name a few. This speaks to the Power of the Stage.
I have may projects for television and film already written but stage is where that adrenaline is right now.
On a “Black Girls Rock” note: Angolan Model Maria Borges just made hair history in the Victoria Secrets fashion show with being the very first female American-American model to walk in a VS show with her own natural hair. What were your thoughts on that epic moment? 
I thought it was excellent!!!! I was so happy to see that, especially having been natural for nearly 10 years myself.
Tell us about your upcoming “One Women Show”.  
Being from the Bay Area is unique in itself. I’ve made stage relevant in an area where folks don’t see it relevant. Not black people anyway. But in my quest, people are always asking Who Is Tracie Collins? Why should we know her or why should be care? Being the type of person I am, I decided to create a show to answer those questions for the naysayers.
I wanted to bring my journey to light so others can know, number one, don’t give up on your dreams and two, we all have a purpose and a platform. I will address pivotal moments in my life that shaped the actress or that shaped the producer in me. But more importantly that shape the woman you see. My tenacity really shows through in this piece. I want people to know that being a leader didn’t and sometimes still doesn’t come easily for me, but I know this is where I belong. I want to make a difference in entertainment so our daughters can look on TV and in magazines and see more women that look like them. That is my goal. It’s about the legacy. It’s about the longterm.
For other women that are trying to reach the goals that you’ve already obtained so far, what advice would you give to them? 
This sounds so cliche, but never give up. It’s hard and it’s meant to be that way for a reason. The process weeds out the weak. I’ve cried a hundred tears. I’ve invested thousands of my own money. I’ve sacrificed time with my family for what’s been bestowed upon me to create and do because the work is bigger than Tracie. So my response to that is, just don’t give up. The only thing that separates them from us is they didn’t stop.
We would like to thank Tracie Collins for speaking with SFPL!
Visualize her story through social:
Twitter – @TracieCollins
Instagram – @TracieCollins
About Tracie Collins

Born in San Francisco and bred in Oakland, Tracie Collins was inspired by the sub cultures of art, theater and stage performances anywhere from the avenues right outside of San Francisco to the abstract depth of the cultured Bay Area. While the oldest of her siblings and deemed responsible for their upbringing, Collins’ dreams of her voice to be heard around the world were conceived in these very moments. And it was in these moments that her modernized renaissance tale was conceived.

After honing her acting chops and the importance of the stage from the American Conservatory Theatre, where she mastered her stagecraft under the tutelage of veterans, she landed her first theatrical role as “Lorelle” in the critically acclaimed play “Dream Girls,” which prepared her for the role as “Pam” in “Misery Loves Company.” Collins’ desire to use her beloved platform to develop a new dialogue around women of color in the arts was promoted by this very moment in her bubbling career.

A year later, filmmaker JD Walker cast Collins as “Tonisha” in his new project “The Postwoman.” With a background in fashion and a pure love for black film, she was able to own this role. So much, it gained an honorable mention in The Sundance Table Read My Screenplay Contest. Collins used this opportunity to propel her dreams and take a real chance at success.

Collins made her directorial debut with the sold out, self-produced stage play, The V Monologues: A Black Woman’s Interpretation (October 2013).  Inspired by Eve Ensler’s original work The Vagina Monologues, Collins’ off Broadway adaptation chronicled the lives of various African-American women and their struggles to break generational chains and misogynistic falsehoods. In years to come, Collins kept the momentum and produced three more sold-out plays, including “Knocking At Love’s Door” (April 2014), “Girlfriend Chronicles” (June 2014) and “Cold Piece of Werk” (March 2015).

With the resounding success of the launch of Tracie Collins Productions and her electrifying stage productions that have drawn audiences and fans from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, Collins has lined up forthcoming productions including an experiential “One Woman Show,” which are all in development for 2016. Collins’ ability to draw from the many changes happening in Oakland, CA allows her to write, direct and produce entertainment that opens a forum for dialogue and self-awareness.

With a passionate force, Collins is a visionary at the forefront of the arts and film industry. Not only for the culture of the skill but moreover providing a new platform for black women all from behind the scenes. Her career embodies what she stands for the most: blending her love for stage plays with the inception of the new-generation performers creating a distinct balance for the future of the art. Her personal cause for art merges pop culture and the stage. Call it the millennial evolution of stage performance.

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Fly Recap: Gladiators Awaken, Scandal Returns To Prime Time TV


“Inserts Praise Hands Emoji”

First of all, we’ve gotta say thank you to Shonda Rhimes! What almost felt like an eternity has finally broke and the new episodes of Scandal are here!  Last time, they left us on edge when Fitz found out about Mellie’s mass murder deal, with Papa Pope!

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Now although it can be quite understood why she chose to give up the names at his request.( I mean after all we are talking about “Command”.) But these actions caused every last Juror involved with the B613 trial to be brutally killed.


And at the same token, unknowingly giving power to the man responsible for the death of their son. Foolishly, making moves without giving knowledge to the president,  unfortunately for her there wasn’t too much of a surprise on our end when we heard Fitz shout the words “Pack your bags and get out of MY HOUSE” as soon as he caught word.


Good Bye Mellie, and Right On Fitz! And now after this long and aggravating wait allow them to be reintroduced to you…

IMG_3932 Everyone’s hearts melted all over again as we get into the two love birds that started it all!

Check out more of our recap after the jump.

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Faith Evans Debuts Cinematic Visual “Fragile” Inspired by Scandal featuring Pooch Hall as President of the United States

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Directed by Derek Blanks, inspiration from the hit television series: Scandal, definitely comes into play in Faith Evans newest visual entitled “Fragile.” In the video, Faith plays “First Lady” to actor Pooch Hall, who holds down the fork as President of the United States. With Infidelity in tow, Faith pulls out her inner Mellie Grant character, and smiles like everything is ok, when truthfully, the President is having quite the affair with a female staff member. Peep the drama below…

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Fly LIGHTs: Shonda Rhimes Covers ‘The Hollywood Reporter’; Talks About Working with Katherine Heigl, Being Inspired by ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ and more…


Being labeled as, “The Savior of Television”, Shonda Rhimes is now the new face of The Hollywood Reporter, which is quite well-deserved in our eyes. The prolific writer/producer of shows like: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and now the successful ‘Scandal’ series, Rhimes tells THR about her well-known policy on set; and also expresses her feelings about past Grey’s Anatomy actress Katherine Heigl. Check out more below…