This, this and more of this!!
Inspiration literally personified.
The 7th annual Essence Magazine Black Women in Hollywood luncheon took place just over a week ago on Thursday 27th February at the Beverly Hills hotel in L.A.
I love that Essence Magazine created a platform / event such as this to celebrate black women’s achievements in the entertainment industry. Just watching the coverage on-line (the event is not televised) and also watching the speeches of the award winners of the day I feel supremely inspired and motivated as well as proud of my fellow black women and all they do and continue to do in their respective industries.
I know that some people still question why or whether we need colour specific platforms like this one when we are all apparently supposed to be “post-racial” and at a time when black people/women are apparently no longer being ignored by the merit-ascribing-ocracy; a case in point might be said to be the fact that Lupita Nyong’o was awarded the Best Breakthrough Performance Award for her role as Patsey in Steve McQueen’s 12 years a Slave at the Essence Luncheon; her performance in that film then won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar at the Academy Awards less than a week later.
“We have arrived”
For me Lupita stole the show at the Oscars, she slayed on the red carpet in her powder-blue Prada gown but moreover she shone and brought tears to my eyes with her gracious, genuine and heart-felt reaction to her win. The next day her face, her win, her dress, her beauty continued to grace newspaper and magazine covers, pages and columns, it was Lupita overload (and I loved it!!). Despite this in my view it is worth remembering that it was only 75 years ago that Hattie McDaniel, the first black person to ever receive an Oscar (for her role as house slave ‘Mammy’ in Gone with the Wind) though she was present at the Academy Awards ceremony on the night, she still had to sit at the back of the hall at a table segregated from her white so-called counterparts.
I point this out only to say that whilst we celebrate the fact that black women are being recognised and honoured for their contributions to film, literature, fashion, music, art etc on some of the biggest award platforms of those arenas, I think it is important that we should not become complacent about this acceptance nor be scared to continue to honour and applaud ourselves, as women or as black women or women of colour, in our own forums despite the fact that we are now being welcomed to sit at the tables of the gatekeepers of industry accolades.
The Essence event also gave a Trailblazer Award to Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Isaacs is the first person of colour to become President of the Academy of Motion Pictures throughout its 86 years history and the first woman in over 70 years. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, the first African-American to win the Best Director Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 for what was only her 2nd feature film ‘Middle of Nowhere’, was presented with the Visionary Award. In her speech Ava spoke about tearing out pictures of career women from the pages of Essence Magazine, women whom she wanted to be like one day, and observed that there would be women/girls still out there doing the same. That in itself spoke to me of the need for visibility of role models, of women, of people of colour, achieving, winning, climbing, soaring even, showing us the possibilities of our collective and individual dreams and for that reason I applaud Essence and their awards.
Let me know if you agree?
Stay Bougie :* xx