Chris Rock, Shonda Rhimes join Essence to celebrate black women in Hollywood

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Oscar host Chris Rock, producer Reginald Hudlin and film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs took an afternoon off from Academy Awards preparations to celebrate black women in Hollywood.

See Full Article

Rock, Hudlin and Boone Isaacs were among the guests at Essence magazine's ninth annual awards luncheon Thursday at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Rock and Boone Isaacs didn't speak publicly; Hudlin took the stage to present an award to legendary entertainer Debbie Allen.

The annual Essence event celebrates the achievements of black women in entertainment. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross, entertainment attorney Nina Shaw and filmmaker Thais Francis were also recognized.

Francis thanked the magazine "for creating a platform of visibility."

"A lot of us in this audience know the importance of visibility, especially during a time, in a society, in a world, in an industry that's telling us that we're invisible," she said.

Shonda Rhimes, who introduced Allen as the new producing director of "Grey's Anatomy," called the writer-director-choreographer-performer "a force of nature."

"Debbie blows through an environment and changes the landscape forever," Rhimes said.

As Allen accepted the Legend Award, she said she felt like she was in church, preaching to her sisters.

"The only plate I'm going to pass is the plate of purpose," she said, urging the women in the audience to make real connections with each other - not just to meet up for drinks, but to work on ways of changing the world.

Shaw gave similar advice as she accepted the Power Award. The attorney for such entertainers as Laurence Fishburne, Lupita Nyong'o and Ava DuVernay was introduced by Nick Cannon and Channing Dungey, who became the first African-American to head a broadcast network when she was named president of ABC Entertainment last week.

"If you are a woman who wants to be empowered, then empower other women," Shaw said.

"Black-ish" star Ross, accompanied by her father and older sister, Rhonda, accepted the Fierce and Fearless award. Ross said she had been sick for the past week and worried she wouldn't be able to attend the luncheon.

"I got dressed in the car," she said. "I'm unclear if what I'm wearing is see-through. If it is, I'm sorry."

She said the recognition from Essence "is truly one of the proudest moments I've experienced."

Oprah Winfrey opened the program, which will air Saturday on OWN.

In a year when Hollywood's lack of inclusion has overwhelmed the Oscar race, Winfrey said, "it's a beautiful thing that we have the good sense to do this for ourselves."


Latest Entertainment News

  • 'The Walking Dead': Michael Cudlitz says no one is safe in Season 7

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Fans of The Walking Dead might still be mourning the victims of Sunday night’s shocking Season 7 premiere, but they shouldn’t feel too bad for the actors involved. Michael Cudlitz, who played the gruff-but-tender ex-soldier Abraham, says coming into AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama without the assumption that your character will be killed off at some point is foolish. Source
  • Q&A: 'Walking Dead' director on who got killed-off in 'horrible' new episode

    Entertainment CTV News
    After six seasons of relentless blood, gore and anguish, it's probably more difficult to shock and appall the fans of "The Walking Dead" compared to most other shows. But Sunday night's season 7 premiere managed to do both. Source
  • Heath Ledger had 'Joker shrine' set up in his apartment: report

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Heath Ledger took his role as The Joker so seriously, he transformed his New York City loft into a shrine to the character, law enforcement sources tell Page Six. The gossip site reports after Ledger died of an overdose in 2008, cops entered his home to find he was an obsessed Batman superfan who filled his apartment with Batman comics, clown statues, and books about clown performers. Source
  • Singer Pete Burns of '80s band Dead or Alive dies at 57

    Entertainment CBC News
    Pete Burns of 1980s pop band Dead or Alive, best known for its worldwide hit You Spin Me Round (Like a Record), has died of a heart attack at the age of 57. The British singer-songwriter's management team confirmed Monday that Burns died of "a massive cardiac arrest" a day earlier. Source
  • Madeleine Thien, Canada's newest literary star, a favourite to win prestigious Man Booker Prize

    Entertainment CBC News
    Madeleine Thien is Canada's newest literary star — making a splash in Canada and abroad with her novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing — nabbing a high-profile trio of nominations for the Man Booker Prize, the Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Awards. Source
  • Dead or Alive frontman Pete Burns dead at 57

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    British singer Pete Burns has died after suffering a heart attack. The former Dead or Alive frontman passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, according to a statement issued by his management team on Burns’ official Twitter page. Source
  • The Bard shares billing: Shakespeare had help with Henry VI plays and others, say scholars

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Bard was not a solo act. Oxford University Press' new edition of William Shakespeare's works will credit Christopher Marlowe as co-author of the three Henry VI plays, underscoring that the playwright collaborated with others on some of his most famous works. Source
  • Britney Spears suffers wardrobe malfunction during Las Vegas show

    Entertainment Toronto Sun happened again. Britney Spears has once again suffered a wardrobe malfunction during her Pieces of Me show in Las Vegas. During the performance of "I Love Rock and Roll ," the clasp on the back of her black halter top came undone, leaving the singer to hold up it up with one hand over her nearly-exposed breast. Source
  • Drake slams Kid Cudi on 'More Life' LP

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Drake is going after the Chosen One. The Toronto superstar teased his next LP – titled More Life – during his OVO Sound radio show Sunday and one of the tracks takes a swipe at fellow rapper Kid Cudi. Source
  • 1960s teen idol Bobby Vee dead at 73

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    MINNEAPOLIS — Pop idol Bobby Vee, the boyish, grinning 1960s singer whose career was born when he took a Midwestern stage as a teenager to fill in after the 1959 plane crash that killed rock ’n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Source