Los Angeles, CA (March 2, 2018) — Kicking off Women’s History Month; ESSENCE turned the spotlight on four remarkable women, during Oscar week, with its popular “BLACK WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD AWARDS,” held Thursday, March 1, 2018 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. Returning to its traditional daytime luncheon, the ESSENCE “BLACK WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD AWARDS” was hosted by actress Yvonne Orji. This year’s program honored actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish; actress Danai Gurira; Emmy-Award winning writer and director Lena Waithe and actress and activist Tessa Thompson. For the fourth consecutive year, the ESSENCE “BLACK WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD AWARDS” will air as a primetime special on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network on March 3, 2018 at 10 pm ET/PT.

Known as an exclusive and highly sought-after invite, this year’s luncheon was abuzz with the most gifted actresses, musicians, executives, beauty influencers and entertainers in the industry. After the intimate cocktail reception, some of the biggest names in Hollywood mingled in the lavishly decorated ballroom among legendary actresses Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Margaret Avery, as well as Ava DuVernay; Gabourey Sidibe, Janelle Monae, Jay Ellis, Amanda Seales, Mike Colter, Yvette Nicole Brown, Amandla Stenberg, Rep. Maxine Waters, Jussie Smollett, Susan Kelechi Watson, Angela Rye, LaLa Anthony, Essence Atkins, Kym Whitley, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Tina Knowles-Lawson, DeWanda Wise, Ruth E. Carter, Nina Shaw and #MeToo activist Tarana Burke.

Also in attendance were 2018 Academy Award nominees for “Film of the Year” Daniel Kaluuya, Lil Rel Howery and Betty Gabriel from “Get Out” and Dee Rees, nominated for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay for “Mudbound.”

Highlights of the luncheon included:
Lupita Nyong’o presenting the award to honoree, Danai Gurira who in turn surprised her friend by serenading her with a very special happy birthday and cupcakes on stage
Presenter Lil Rel Howery presenting to his dear friend Tiffany Haddish as she reminisced of their humble beginnings in Hollywood
Tiffany Haddish giving a heart-felt, intimate speech on remaining positive throughout all the highs and lows of life
Angela Bassett and “Dear White People” director Justin Simien presenting Emmy Award-winning writer and director Lena Waithe with the first 2018 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Ford Vanguard Award
Steven Spielberg sharing his love for Lena Waithe and her brilliant talent via highlight video
Lena Waithe’s powerful speech about being true to herself regarding her sexuality, and the importance of speaking your own truth
Janelle Monae presenting to her dear friend Tessa Thompson after sharing a story about meeting at an audition for the same part years ago; which neither of them landed
Tessa Thompson delivered a powerful and empowered speech about equality pertinent to the #TimesUp movement
Ava DuVernay introduced a special performance by pop stars Chloe X Halle, singing their song, “Warrior,” from the “A Wrinkle in Time” soundtrack.