Film, TV & Stage

Issa Rae, Janelle Monáe, Yara Shahidi and Aja Naomi King honoured with Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood Award

BLACK GIRL MAGIC: Issa Rae, Aja Naomi King, Yara Shahidi and Janelle Monáe

BLACK GIRL MAGIC: Issa Rae, Aja Naomi King, Yara Shahidi and Janelle Monáe

ISSA RAE, the star and creator of hit series Insecure, joined How To Get Away With Murder‘s Aja Naomi King, Black-ish star Yara Shahidi and Hidden Figure‘s Janelle Monáe in receiving Essence magazine’s Black Women in Hollywood Award.

The four women, honoured for their contributions to the entertainment industry, each took the stage to accept their awards at the Beverly Wiltshire Four Seasons, where guests in attendance included Gabrielle Union, Tina Knowles, Cynthia Erivo and Viola Davis.

Issa said she had dreamed of receiving the honour, which was presented to Oprah Winfrey last year.

“I used to say, ‘It would be so cool to be up there,’ but I didn’t imagine it now,” Issa Rae said ahead of receiving her award. “I was thinking maybe after a couple more films, a couple TV shows under my belt. … That’s really what I thought. It’s just so encouraging to be awarded so early in my career. But that’s what Essence does. It gets behind and supports black women. Now I feel like I can be on that journey.”

Past honorees include Viola Davis, Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer.

This year’s awards, now in its tenth year, recognise “Hollywood’s Next Generation”.

“These women are making their own waves,” said Vanessa K. De Luca, editor-in-chief at Essence. “We think about who’s had a stellar year. We think about who’s been working quietly behind the scenes forever and deserves recognition. We think about who are going to be the women to pick up the mantle. We think about who are new and next. This year, we are taking a look at the new Hollywood.”

Vanessa said the awards provide an opportunity for the actresses to network with each other. She said many carve out time in their schedules to make sure they attend the awards, an event Winfrey has called “a sacred place” for black women.

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