Red lips and red bottoms were abundant Thursday afternoon (Mar. 1) as black women across all fields–fashion, activism, film, television and music–rivered their way into the Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel for Essence’s 11th annual Black Women In Hollywood luncheon. While the Los Angeles weather took a cue from the cooler temps of the East Coast, the smiles, hugs and “hey girl heys” shared by attendees quickly warmed anyone chilly with goosebumps.
The annual pre-Oscar bash designed with a “for us by us” mentality aims to recognize the black women who’ve shined brightest through their individual work. Past honorees included Issa Rae, Janelle Monae, Tracee-Ellis Ross and How To Get Away With Murder’s Aja Naomi King. The 2018 class of women met the bar set by recipients of yesteryear, and as black women so often do, they also raised it. Laugh out loud bae Tiffany Haddish, alongside Masters of Everything bae Lena Waithe, Wakanda forever bae Danai Gurira and Creed 2 bae Tessa Thompson were all rightfully chosen as this year’s honorees, and helping to make the entire day a success was the Ford Motor Company.
After talent and celebrity guests walked the red carpet, attendees relaxed backstage where the 114-year-old car company displayed their 2018 Ford Mustang. Dubbed the Ford Mustang Empowerment Corner, the Mustang was the center of attention in the middle of VIP. The newest Mustang offers drivers even more customizations making their car their own signature on the road. Through Ford’s Facebook page, fans can “Personalize Their Pony” which allows them to create their own distinct pony, and then use their design to order pins, mugs, prints, phone cases or whatever their heart desires.
The newest addition to the Ford family is available in various colors, however a sparkling merlot Mustang acted as a backdrop while celebrity stylist June Ambrose conducted interviews. Everyone from This Is Us actress Susan Kelechi Watson to Ford’s Head of Cross Brand Strategy and Growth Audience Communication, Rajoielle Register spoke on the importance of black women honoring black women.
Essence’s Black Women In Hollywood luncheon is an amalgamation of love, recognized hard work for your fellow sistren, fellowship, and gratitude. Airing Saturday night (Mar. 3) on OWN, viewers can only hope the feeling of sisterhood expressed in the room translates through the television screen. Be prepared for Black Panther star Danai Guiria to take you to the mountaintop, while Tessa Thompson speaks about the enduring love of her Mexican mother. You’ll laugh as Tiffany Haddish tries to hustle Ford into giving her a car for free (since she now has a lot more Instagram followers) and be reminded by Lena Waithe that as she once poetically tweeted “closets are for clothes, not people.” Led by Insecure’s hilarious Yvonne Orji, the 2018 affair was one for the books.
VIBE was on hand for the event and in between the rousing speeches and performances spoke with some dynamic women (and a few good men) to pick their brain with one question: what’s the best piece of advice a black woman outside of your family has ever given to you? The responses may surprise you. View the gallery above and see the plethora of insight black women have willingly bestowed to others.