By: Phillip D. Johnson for L’Etage Magazine
During the week leading up to the 85TH ACADEMY AWARDS, LINCOLN and ESSENCE MAGAZINE honored some of Hollywood’s most influential African-American women in television and film during the 6th annual “Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon.”
“Black women actors, writers, directors and producers still lack diverse opportunities in Hollywood and, unfortunately, are often overlooked during awards season,” commented former ESSENCE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF CONSTANCE WHITE last year. “The ESSENCE BLACK WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD LUNCHEON exists to provide a fitting tribute to the brilliant talent and accomplishments of African-American trailblazers and celebrate their collective work as an inspiration for generations to come.”
Lincoln’s 2013 luxury midsize sedan, the MKZ, is the official vehicle for the event and was be onsite for attendees to view.
“The innovation and inspiring design behind the all-new MKZ makes it a perfect complement to these talented women who have inspired through their careers and innovation,” says SHAWN THOMPSON, LINCOLN MANAGER OF MULTICULTURAL MARKETING.
OPRAH WINFREY was among the honorees and given the big honor of the night with the Power Award for her accomplished career and charitable work. Winfrey brought nine graduates from her school in South Africa, the OPRAH WINFREY LEADERSHIP ACADEMY FOR GIRLS, who shared the spotlight with her as she received the POWER AWARD.
Breakout Oscar-nominate actress QUVENZHANÉ WALLIS was given the Breakthrough Performance award. Fellow honorees included actress GABRIELLE UNION presented with the Fierce and Fearless honor; writer/producer MARA BROCK-AKIL with the Visionary Award; actress NAOMIE HARRIS with the Lincoln Shining Star Award; and actress ALFRE WOODARD with the Vanguard Award.
Writer, producer and creator extraordinaire MARA BROCK AKIL and James Bond’s latest “Bond girl”, NAOMIE HARRIS, arrived in style in the MKZ. Miss Akil, an acclaimed producer and writer, is responsible for successful television shows and movies featuring African-American casts.
Her company, HAPPY CAMPER PRODUCTIONS, partnered with KELSEY GRAMMER‘s GRAMNET PRODUCTIONS and CBS PARAMOUNT to create the groundbreaking series “Girlfriends.” In 2012, she produced “Sparkle” starring the late Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks. Akil is preparing to debut her new show, “Being Mary Jane,” starring GABRIELLE UNION.
Thompson presented Harris with the LINCOLN SHINING STAR AWARD. Last year she grabbed the attention of Hollywood with her star-turning performance in the highest-grossing Bond film of all time, “Skyfall.” The London-born actress also has appeared in hits such as “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.” She will star in the upcoming Nelson Mandela biopic, “Long Walk to Freedom” opposite IDRIS ELBA.
“Naomie’s critically acclaimed work in film, television and theater represents the dynamic group of today’s African-American women who are such a crucial part of the premium market space,” says Thompson.
NAOMI CAMPBELL, KELLY ROWLAND, JILL SCOTT, DAVID OYELOWO, MEAGAN GOOD, MEHCAD BROOKS and BLAIR UNDERWOOD were among those on hand to show their support. The luncheon featured a performance from singer MIGUEL. Presenter COMMON surprised the crowd with an impromptu freestyle rap after a minor technical difficulty.
“It’s amazing and beautiful women, and people I have so much respect for,” said Campbell.
Former Essence honoree LORETTA DEVINE believed Hollywood has changed over the last 40 years with actresses like Kerry Washington holding the lead in “Scandal.”
“All these things are significant for young black girls trying to figure out what they want to do next and what they want to be,” said Devine.
PHOTO GALLERY OF GUESTS
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Since its commencement in 2008, ESSENCE BLACK WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD has honored HALLE BERRY , JADA PINKETT-SMITH , ANGELA BASSETT , QUEEN LATIFAH , TARAJI P. HENSON, VIOLA DAVIS , JENNIFER HUDSON , ZOE SALDANA , MARY J. BLIGE , GABOUREY SIDIBE, JURNEE SMOLLETT, RUBY DEE , DIAHANN CARROLL , CICELY TYSON , LORETTA DEVINE , GINA PRINCE-BYTHEWOOD , and SUZANNE DE PASSE. As one of the most highly anticipated events during Oscar week, this A-List event has hosted some of Hollywood’s elite, including TOM CRUISE, WILL SMITH, AMY ADAMS, SAMUEL L. JACKSON, FOREST WHITAKER, JAMES CAMERON, and LAURENCE FISHBURNE, among many others.
ESSENCE COMMUNICATIONS INC. (ECI) is the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, with a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online. The company’s flagship publication, ESSENCE MAGAZINE, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL, ESSENCE BLACK WOMEN IN HOLLYWOODandBLACK WOMEN IN MUSIC, WINDOW ON OUR WOMEN and SMART BEAUTY consumer insights series, the ESSENCE BOOK CLUB, ESSENCE.COM, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 41 years, ESSENCE, which has a brand reach of over 8 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information and specific solutions relating to every area of African-American women’s lives. Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at www.essence.com.
Lincoln is the luxury automotive brand of Ford Motor Company, committed to creating compelling vehicles with an exceptional ownership experience to match. Lincoln will introduce four all-new vehicles in the next four years. For more information about Lincoln, please visit www.lincoln.com. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Lincoln.
Video footage from the event shows Alfre Woodard, Mara Brock Akil, Wendell Pierce, Tatyana Ali, Keke Palmer and Shawn Thompson, Multicultural Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company, being interview by the impeccable Bevy Smith in the Lincoln blogger tent, while the entire 2013 Lincoln fleet was on hand.
Photo Credits : PictureGroup and Sabrina Boasman for L’Etage Magazine