ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood 2024: How Black Women Radiate And Reclaim Their Power

ESSENCE gathered the finest in Black talent to celebrate Black women and their “radiant power,” per this year’s theme, at the annual Black Women In Hollywood luncheon. 

As many strutted down the carpet in head-turning looks and squealed gleefully amidst surprise reunions, VIBE was able to catch up with a few veterans and rising stars to unpack how they’ve had to reclaim their power—both personally and professionally. 

Many felt that they needed to reclaim their power daily. 

“As a Black woman in Hollywood, you’re always getting back your power, radiating it, preserving it, making sure people see it,” said Yvonne Orji. The actress-comedian added, “Listen—when isn’t there a day where I have to constantly remind people of my power and then radiate it and then smile? Because anything else is too threatening.”

Actress Lex Scott Davis shared, “Black women specifically, have to go above and beyond and have to be excellent all the time just to be seen. And I did that on this [new business venture], and it worked out, but it’s just interesting how some people can get things a little easier than what we have to do to get someone to say yes to us.” 

Jessica Betts, singer and wife of Niecy Nash, spoke on how she had to reclaim her power after many attempted to box her in at the start of her career. Whereas Amber Riley and Gabrielle Dennis spoke up for those who often find themselves reclaiming their power after being told “no.”

Dennis expressed, “I almost feel like I have to reset every time I’m told no. It’s like, you get kicked down and it’s like, Nope. God said I’m supposed to be here, so you tried it.’ […] And I think that’s what helps me reclaim my power— knowing that I’m where I’m supposed to be doing what I’m supposed to do.” 

Angie Beyince of Sistas reflected on how her faith kept her grounded as she constantly reinvented and fought for herself. Scottie Beam shared a similar sentiment when speaking on finding confidence while feeling uncomfortable with the unknown. 

The Color Purple’s Phylicia Pearl Mpasi got a bit more personal, as she recently had to reclaim her power following a breakup. She also detailed how her close friends rallying around her got her out of rock bottom. While Tichina Arnold opted to keep those “very personal moments” to herself, she credited them for molding her into who she is today. 

June Ambrose and Mona Scott-Young both spoke directly to the theme of radiant power.

Ambrose called it “the crescendo of the celebration,” adding, “Whenever I’m triumphing in something that people think I cannot do, when they try to gaslight me into thinking that I may not be good enough, I love to rise above all of the naysayers, and I love to win.” Scott-Young considered it to be “the God in us [and] the gift in us.”

The full award ceremony, hosted by Method Man, will be available to stream on OWN and Max/Discovery+ on March 15. The celebration honors Danielle Brooks, Halle Bailey, Nkechi Okoro Carroll, and Kathryn Busby.