Lena Waithe,Danai Gurira,Tiffany Haddish, Tessa Thompson Honored At Essence Event

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 01: (L-R) ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief, Vanessa K. De Luca, Honorees Tessa Thompson, Lena Waithe, Tiffany Haddish, Danai Gurira, Host Yvonne Orji, President, Essence Communications Inc., Michelle Ebanks and Founder and Chairperson, Essence Ventures, Richelieu Dennis onstage during the 2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on March 1, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Essence)
ESSENCE EIC Vanessa K. De Luca, Tessa Thompson, Lena Waithe, Tiffany Haddish, Danai Gurira, Yvonne Orji, Michelle Ebanks (President, Essence Communications Inc.), Richelieu Dennis (Founder and Chairperson, Essence Ventures)

The 11th annual Essence Magazine’s “Black Women in Hollywood” Awards luncheon, hosted by “Insecure” actress Yvonne Orji was held on Thursday, March 1 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills days before the Academy Awards are to take place and as we begin Women’s History Month. 


2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Show

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 01: Director Ava DuVernay speaks onstage during the 2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on March 1, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Essence)

The Chicago connection to the event was there. Emmy award winning writer and director Lena Waithe, a Chicago native was presented the first 2018 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Ford Vanguard Award by Angela Bassett and “Dear White People” director Justin Simien and she also received a video congratulation from award winning director Steven Spielberg.

2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Show

Lena Waithe’s powerful speech was all about being true to herself regarding sexuality, and the importance of speaking your own truth. “So many of our black, gay, lesbian, queer, and trans foremothers and forefather, those that never felt comfortable by their gender, had to hide,” she said “Now look at us, still hiding. Hiding because we don’t want to lose an endorsement deal. Hiding because we want to be normal. Hiding because we don’t want to make white folks uneasy. But most of all hiding because we don’t want to make our own people feel uncomfortable. Being born gay, black and female is not a revolutionary act. Being proud to be a gay black female is.”

2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Red Carpet

Get Out actor Lil Rel Howery, who is also a Chicago native presented the award to his friend Tiffany Haddish who had the crowd cracking up as she shared stories of her early days in acting as well as growing up as a foster youth.
“Me and Rel, we used to be on the telephone talking. I used to be like, ‘Rel, we gon’ make it, man. We gon’ do this, we gon’ have a TV show…And he used to be like, ‘You dream big.’ Yeah, I dream big! You gotta dream as big as possible…And like, look at us now, Rel! Aaaah!” “I’m glad I had those experiences because now when I perform I can come from a place of reality. I know how different people live. Everybody is crazy. It doesn’t matter what your nationality is.”

2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Show

Tessa Thompson was presented her award by dear friend Janelle Monae. Thompson delivered a powerful and empowered speech about equality pertinent to the #TimesUp movement.

2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Show

2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Show

Fresh off the success of Black Panther, actress Lupita Nyong’o presented her “soul sister and patriarchy resister” Danai Gurira with her award and in true sisterhood form, since the day was Lupita birthday as well, Gurira serenaded her with a very special happy birthday and cupcakes on stage.

2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Show

Ava DuVernay introduced a special performance by pop stars Chloe X Halle, singing their song, “Warrior,” from the “A Wrinkle in Time” soundtrack.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 01: Chloe Bailey (L) and Halle Bailey perform onstage during the 2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on March 1, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for Essence)

Attendees at the annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon included Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Margaret Avery, as well as Ava DuVernay; Gabourey Sidibe, Janelle Monae, Jay Ellis, Amanda Seales, Mike Colter, Yvette Nicole Brown, Amandla Stenberg, Rep. Maxine Waters, Jussie Smollett, Susan Kelechi Watson, Angela Rye, LaLa Anthony, Essence Atkins, Kym Whitley, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Tina Knowles-Lawson, DeWanda Wise, Ruth E. Carter, Nina Shaw and #MeToo activist Tarana Burke.
2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Show

2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Show

2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Show
La La Anthony

2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Show
Angela Rye, Antoinette Robertson

2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon - Red Carpet
Halle Bailey and Chloe Bailey

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 01: Betty Gabriel (L) and Lil Rel Howery attend the 2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on March 1, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Essence)
Betty Gabriel, Lil Rel Howery

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 01: (L-R) President of Essence Communications Michelle Ebanks, Honoree Danai Gurira, and Actor Daniel Kaluuya pose onstage during the 2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on March 1, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Essence)

ESSENCE “Black Women In Hollywood Awards” will air on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network on March 3, 2018 at 9 pm CST.

All photos: Getty Images for Essence

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Bolaji Sosan
Bolaji Sosan

pronounced: Boh-la-jee, like the Bellagio but w/o the O. SLC Founder and Editor, loves to write about topics at the intersection of career and lifestyle for today's young professional and future leaders.

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