Every year, Essence celebrates talented Black women who have made a huge impact on Hollywood.
This year, the awards program has hit its 10th anniversary and celebrated in style by honoring: Aja Naomi King, Issa Rae, Janelle Monae and Yara Shahidi.
Each of these brilliant women have been a staple on big and small screens this year; with their respective television shows or movies, racking up multiple nominations and wins during this year’s awards circuit.
Here’s a closer look at the fantastic year had by all honorees:
Aja Naomi King – Shining Star Award
King was seen on the silver screen in this year’s highly touted Birth of A Nation. King turned many heads in her stirring performance of Cherry Turner. We will next see her on the big screen starring opposite Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston in 2018’s, Untouchable.
If this weren’t enough, you can catch King every Thursday night holding her own against Viola Davis on How to Get Away with Murder.
Keep the hits coming, Miss King.
Issa Rae – Vanguard Award
She started her own web series called, The Mis–Adventures of Awkward Black Girl and now, the 32-year-old has used the inspiration from that series to craft her own TV series, Insecure which had its premiere on HBO last year. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you most definitely should.
Although the show was in its first season and Rae was relatively new to the game, it didn’t stop her from being nominated for Best Actress -Television Series Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globe Awards. It’s clear that HFPA took notice of the immensely talented writer, actress and producer.
Talk about a triple-threat.
Janelle Monáe – Breakthrough Award
Many of us know Janelle Monáe as the funktastic musician that she is. But this year, she starred in two of the year’s most talked about films: Moonlight and Hidden Figures.
During Moonlight, Monáe is a scene-stealer. She plays Teresa, the no-nonsense girlfriend of Juan (Mahershala Ali). Teresa tells it like it is and is a staple throughout the film, helping Chiron (Alex Hibbert and later, Ashton Sanders) in his quest for self-acceptance.
In Hidden Figures, Monáe portrays the groundbreaking Mary Jackson- the woman who would become NASA’s first Black female engineer.
As outstanding as Monáe was in both films, surely many more starring roles are in the cards.
Yara Shahidi – Generation Next Award
Yara Shahidi is no stranger to the camera. She made her theatrical debut back in 2009 where she starred as Eddie Murphy’s daughter, Olivia in Imagine That. Since then, she’s been in movies and shows such as Alex Cross, Wizards of Waverly Place, The First Family, and Scandal. But her current role as Zoey on Black-ish is what has everyone talking.
Not only does she command attention on-screen at such a young age, but she’s already an activist. The teen started Yara’s Club, a mentorship program for young women last year.
At 17-years-old, the sky’s the limit for Shahidi.
How’s that for some Black girl magic!
Let us know what you think about the Black Women in Hollywood honorees in the comment section below.