Danielle Brooks, Halle Bailey, Nkechi Okoro Carroll and Starz’s Kathryn Busby Named Essence Black Women in Hollywood Honorees (EXCLUSIVE)

Rexa Vella

Danielle Brooks, Halle Bailey, Nkechi Okoro Carroll and Starz’s Kathryn Busby Named Essence Black Women in Hollywood Honorees (EXCLUSIVE)

Essence’s 17th annual Black Women in Hollywood awards will salute Danielle Brooks, Halle Bailey, Nkechi Okoro Carroll and Starz’s Kathryn Busby.

The star-studded annual event celebrating Black women for their contributions to the film and TV business will take place on Thursday, March 7, at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, hosted by actor, Grammy-winning rapper and entrepreneur Cliff “Method Man” Smith.

News of the special commendation comes amid a groundswell of acclaim for the quartet. In January, Brooks earned her first Academy Award nominations for reprising her Tony-nominated and Grammy-winning performance as Sofia in the musical reimagining of “The Color Purple.” Meanwhile, Bailey celebrated her first solo Grammy nomination — adding to her five previous nods as half of Chloe x Halle — wrapping up a year that saw her star as Ariel in Disney’s live-action “The Little Mermaid” and young Nettie in “The Color Purple.” On the TV side, Carroll struck gold (again) as the showrunner of NBC’s “Found,” which joins “All American” and “All American: Homecoming” in her lineup of hit shows. As president of original programming at Starz, Busby has overseen the continued expansion of the network’s successful “Power” franchise and green-lit the upcoming “Outlander” prequel “Blood of My Blood.”

The awards ceremony, produced by Essence Studios and Red Summer TV, will air on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network and stream on Max/Discovery+. This one-hour primetime special will bring audiences inside the intimate pre-Oscar celebration by showcasing the red carpet arrivals, exclusive interviews and highlights from the awards presentation.

The 2024 event is themed “Radiant Power” to spotlight the “strength, grace and influence” of Black women as they navigate the entertainment business, particularly amid the turmoil of 2023’s historic writers and actors strikes.

“The intersection of joy and justice is where community thrives. We don’t ever need to diminish our collective power and accomplishments; due to the work we are still doing to exist equitably,” said Essence Ventures president and CEO Caroline Wanga in a statement announcing the honorees.

“The past year tested this intersection within one of our most sacred cultural realms, when the entertainment industry faced the gridlock of stakeholder value and worth. Livelihoods and legacies were at-risk as the fight for economic inclusion mandated resolution,” Wanga explained. “In parallel, the assets that the industry creates as a direct infusion of joy that propels our community through the depth and breadth of life, were stagnated as a clear and just outcome stayed uncertain. While parts of the incongruence have stabilized, there is still significant work to be done to create sustainable change.”

Bearing this in mind, Wanga affirms Essence’s commitment to uplift the efforts of Black women like Brooks, Bailey, Carroll and Busby, who “continue to offer their craft and skill as a lifeline of optimism and hope.”

She continued: “Adjacent to the ongoing work to democratize wealth, we stand unapologetic about celebrating the Black women within the industry that are the purveyors of the cinematic nutrients that nourish our spirits and souls.”

Like the magazine itself — which has been in publication for more than five decades — the Essence Black Women in Hollywood event, Wanga concluded, stands to commemorate these Black women’s achievements as they “continually un-stick floors, un-break ladders, and un-glass ceilings.”

In addition to the award ceremony, the magazine will host its 5th annual Essence Hollywood House for aspiring filmmakers, actors and TV & film enthusiasts on Friday, March 8. This year’s theme is “Scripting Reel Change” and the day-long program of fireside chats, panel discussions, speed mentoring sessions and more will take place in person at 3322 La Cienega Place in Los Angeles. Virtual attendees can stream the proceedings at Essence.com, X (formerly known as Twitter), Facebook and YouTube.

Both the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards and Hollywood House are produced by Essence Communications, Inc. and sponsored by Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Smartwater.

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