Culture

Essence's 2019 Black Women In Hollywood Honorees Represent Generational Black Girl Magic In TV And Film

Essence's 2019 Black Women In Hollywood Honorees Represent Generational Black Girl Magic In TV And Film

Photo: Essence 

It's that time of year again for Essence Magazine to celebrate Black girl magic in film and television with its annual Black Women in Hollywood Awards luncheon. With this year's theme being "The Power Of Our Presence: Art & Activism," Essence's four honorees are Jenifer Lewis, Regina Hall, Kiki Layne, and Amandla Stenberg.

“We are proud to salute the marvelous work and stunning achievements of our 2019 Black Women in Hollywood awardees, who as a collective presence are challenging perceptions and impacting social change,” said Essence Chief Creative and Content Officer MoAna Luu. "Through their craft and their commitment to causes, Amandla, Jenifer, Kiki and Regina represent the dynamic intersection of art and activism that is influencing how we shape our own destiny."

Photo: Ian Maddox/@iancredible

For over 30 years, Lewis, or should we say the "mother of Black Hollywood," has brought her witty humor and authenticity to films and television shows that have since turned into classics such as: 'Poetic Justice,' 'The Preacher's Wife,' 'A Different World,' and 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.'

Lewis, who currently stars as Grandma Ruby on ABC's 'Black-ish,' told Essence: "I entertain with my entire molecular structure and have been sustained in this business because I love what I do."

Photo: Ian Maddox/@iancredible

The same goes for Regina Hall, who shared: "It's really exciting to say not only that you've been in a business for 20 years, but also that you’re still loving it and learning." 

Two decades after making her film debut in 'The Best Man,' Hall made history as the first Black woman to receive the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress. She earned the honor for her role in 'Support the Girls.' 

Photo: Ian Maddox/@iancredible

Newcomer Kiki Layne stars in Barry Jenkins' film adaptation of James Baldwin's 'If Beale Street Could Talk.' She plays Tish, a young woman who tries to prove her fiancé's innocence after he's wrongly accused of rape. 

"Because so much of Tish's strength comes from vulnerability and her commitment to love and being loved, I learned to tap into my own vulnerability," Layne expressed. "I also learned to trust myself more and to know that what I’m bringing is enough."

Photo: Ian Maddox/@iancredible

Whether she's playing Rue in 'The Hunger Games,' Maddy in 'Everything Everything,' or Starr in 'The Hate U Give,' Stenberg has spent her entire career giving us all the feels. And that's exactly what she set out to do - to make people "feel something," plus help tell authentic Black stories. 

“I look for characters and stories that conceptualize a Black experience without minimizing it or falling into harmful stereotypes," Stenberg explained. "I want characters who raise us up and show the nuance of who we are and how beautiful and multifaceted and colorful we are too." 

Jenifer Lewis, Regina Hall, Kiki Layne, and Amandla Stenberg are set to be honored during Oscars week on Thursday, February 21 at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills.