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 ESSENCEBlack 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 HollywoodAwards & Gala was presented by TheLincoln 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 Essence.com 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 www.facebook.com/essence.
Photo Credit: Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Essence
Relevé Entertainment, in conjunction with Walgreens and AIDS Healthcare Foundation, hosted the eighth Annual Merge Summit from August 25-27, 2016 at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.
The Merge Summit (Founder-Dr. Holly Carter; Co-Founder and Co-Chairwoman-Robi Reed; Chairwoman-Traci Blackwell) is a unique event created to inspire synergy with faith based and entertainment industry leaders to educate, uplift, and encourage attendees to aspire towards their professional and personal goals. The theme of this year’s celebration was “Infinite Possibilities” as a way to allow the Summit to serve as a proper launch pad to propel attendees into their vision.
The weekend opened with a formal opening Gala acknowledging the outstanding accomplishments of Senior Vice President of Prudential Financial-Dorinda Walker, ESSENCE Magazine Editor At Large-Mikki Taylor, founder and senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center (LWCC)-Dr. Bill Winston and Emmy Award Nominated Actor-Courtney B. Vance. This evening was hosted by celebrated actress/comedian/TV personality- Sherri Shepherd and featured performances by Jonathan McReynolds and Ezekiel (The Poet).
Nearly 60 of the industry’s top entertainers and executives led more than 20 interactive panel discussions, workshops and Master Class sessions covering music, television, film, creative development, branding and new media.
The Merge Summit’s featured participants included: Hit Fox TV Show Empire Co-Stars, Trai Byers and GraceGealey; Tina Knowles Lawson, Actor-Richard Lawson, Multi-Platinum GRAMMY Award Winning Singer/TV Personality-Michelle Williams; GRAMMY Award Winning Universal Motown Gospel Recording Artist-Tasha Cobbs; Monami Entertainment CEO-Mona Scott Young; Director, Supplier Diversity, Walgreen Co.-Rona Fourte; Blockbuster Producer (X-Men, Wolverine, and Fantastic Four), Ralph Winter; CEO, Liquid Soul-Tirrell Whittley, Co-Chairman of de Passe Jones Entertainment –Suzanne de Passe; EMMY nominated and Peabody Award Winning Motion picture and television producer and owner of Martin Chase Productions –Debra Martin Chase; Vice President Of Talent & Casting for Original Programming at BET Networks-Robi Reed; Head Of Talent and Casting for ABC-Ayo Davis; Walt Disney Studios Executive Vice President, Production, Tendo Nagenda; President of Studio Lambert-Greg Goldman; Film Producer and President/CEO of Franklin Entertainment-DeVon Franklin; President, Producers Guild of America CEO of Revelations Entertainment- Lori McCreary; Senior Director Of Development for BET Networks-Tamara Gregory; Film Producer/CEO, 1019 Entertainment-Ralph Winter; Casting Director/Producer (Empire, The Butler)-Leah Daniels-Butler; Head Of Television for Will Packer Productions-Korin Huggins; Revolt TV’s Head Of Programming-Kelly G; Vice President Of Talent Development & Inclusion-Disney/ABC- Tim McNeal; GRAMMY Nominated Producer-Harmony Samuels; Actresses: Meagan Good Franklin, LisaRaye McCoy, Brely Evans,Essence Atkins, Edwina Findley-Dickerson, Salli Richardson Whitfield; Actors: Larenz Tate, Dondré Whitfield,John David Washington, Sinqua Walls, Cornelius Smith; Spiritual Leaders: Dr. Cindy Trimm, Pastor Wayne Chaney, Dr. DeForest Soaries, Cindy Trimm, Shawn Bolz, Pastor Mark Baker;AuthorSophia Nelsonand many others.
As The Merge Summit intentionally believes in a holistic approach, guests were also treated to massages and relaxation techniques at The Wellness® Lounge.
In addition to the educational panel experience, attendees were invited to participate in entertainment based events, including a faith based comedy show, CHURCH OF LAUGH LIVE hosted by actor/comedian Jonathan Slocumb, The Playmakers and NotKarlton Banks and the FREE-PHYER XPerience Concert featuring Kierra Sheard.
As an added incentive for Platinum Level guests, the Merge Summit included an exclusive screening of The Birth Of A Nation, featuring a surprise post-screening Q&A with the film’s lead actor and director, Nate Parker, and TV personality/journalist, Jawn Murray.
“I wanted people to believe that this year’s summit was designed with them in mind to achieve the infinite possibilities that awaited them. From the personal testimonies, the feedback and word of mouth, I think the mission was accomplished. I feel humbled as this was God’s doing and it’s marvelous in my sight,” says Dr. Holly Carter.