Women of Color in Film and TV: Quotes of the Day: Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood Awards

Last Thursday, Feb. 21, Essence magazine held its sixth annual Black Women in Hollywood awards luncheon.

The honorees were:

Breakthrough Performance – Quvenzhané Wallis

Lincoln Shining Star Award – Naomie Harris

Visionary Award – Mara Brock Akil

Fierce & Fearless Award – Gabrielle Union

Vanguard Award – Alfre Woodard

Power Award – Oprah Winfrey

Nine-year-old Wallis, star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, thanked God, director Behn Zeitlin, and her on-set babysitters.

Winfrey said, of power: 
“… for me is that it’s connected to a source that’s obviously greater than myself. Any time you can connect to the source and understand that that’s where all of your energy, your creativity, your joy and your triumph come from, I consider that to be authentic power.”

Union noted that she hadn’t always been “fierce and fearless,” and that she didn’t speak up against racism when she was younger and posed in photographs in ways that would “minimize” her “blackness.” However, she added:

“Real fearless and fierce women admit mistakes and work to correct them,” she said. “We stand up and we use our voices for things other than self-promotion. We don’t stand by and let racism and sexism and homophobia run rampant on our watch. Real fierce and fearless women celebrate and compliment other women and we recognize and embrace the notion that their shine in no way diminishes our light, and actually makes our light shine brighter.”

Brock Akil, writer and producer known for Moesha, Girlfriends, Cougar Town, The Game and Sparkle, delivered a tearful speech, saying:

“All I ever wanted to do was tell our story.”



The awards luncheon, held two days before the Academy Awards, celebrates the success of black women writers, producers, actresses and other Hollywood power-brokers. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross says, “It’s a beautiful afternoon where we’re celebrating each other and giving praise to women that don’t always get praised.”  

This event by, for and all about black women in Hollywood serves as a celebration of the successes these women have had and as inspiration to the women who will come after them. 
  • Union is one of my favorite actresses. Love her