All Articles Tagged "essence"

Game-Changers Debbie Allen, Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes & More Talk About The Black Women Who Inspired Them

April 17th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Shonda Rhimes & More Talk About The Black Women Who Inspired Them

Source: Essence

We were happy to report the news that Essence magazine was featuring a few of our favorites, Debbie Allen, Mara Brock Akil,  Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae, and Shonda Rhimes, on the cover of their Mary issue.

Not only did the women look absolutely beautiful in their white, in some recent videos from behind the cover shoot, the cover girls talked about what it meant to be featured with this group of women and the Black women who inspired them to pursue careers in film and television.

Check out some of the highlights from the videos and the full clips below.

The Black woman who inspired DuVernay to tell stories

The Black woman who inspired me to be storyteller was my Aunt Denise. She was a storyteller in her own right, as many people in our families are who may not be able to amplify their stories through film, or television or books or media. She was the storyteller of our family, the keeper of our stories, the one who made sure that we were connected through our own narratives in the family. She loved film, she loved theater and she was really the person who inspired me to say that I want to tell stories and that it was ok to do that and pursue that.  


The Black woman who inspired Debbie Allen 

The Black woman that has inspired me to be in arts is really my mother, Vivian Ayers. She encouraged me to dance, to study ballet, to train, even though things were segregated in Houston, Texas. She’s also been my greatest critic, my biggest fan. She is an accomplished writer, composer, cultural activist, great cook and she’s beautiful. My mom.

The Black woman who inspired Shonda Rhimes

The Black woman who inspired me to go into show business was Whoopi Goldberg. I saw her live on Broadway show when I was about 17 and it was so brilliantly written and it really inspired and made me think that I could be writer. It was a really different kind of writing and it spoke to me. It had nothing to do with me, it had nothing to do with my life and yet it was entirely familiar. It made me feel like I could be a writer.

The Black woman who inspired Issa Rae

The Black woman who inspired me to go into show business is Gina Prince Bythewood. I remember the first time I saw Love and Basketball knowing that it was written, directed, co-produced by a Black woman, shot in my neighborhood, I just remember my eyes opening wide with like ‘Oh my gosh I can do this and I want to do this and I want to create these stories.’ I definitely credit her for me taking that leap. The first step I took was writing a script. I wrote her a letter asking her to direct the script actually. She wrote me back and encouraged me to keep writing and that was the fuel I needed. Like, ‘Yes, she wrote me back, I’m supposed to do this.’

The Black woman who inspired Mara Brock Akil 

It’s funny that Debbie Allen is here today. I remember her on “Fame” but I think when I found out that she was behind the storytelling of “A Different World” I was like, ‘I’ve got to get in that world.’ I think before, television was something that I experienced but then when I realized she was doing it and how much the stories moved me, I wanted to be a part of that conversation. It’s such an honor to be here with her because our journey has continued but for us to be documented together in this way, I’m near tears, actually I’m so excited.

I love these stories about the women who inspired them. It really illustrates how doing what excites us and following our passions can open the door for the next generation. Beautiful. You can check out the full video from the behind the cover shoot below.

And Another One: Queen Latifah Covers The November Essence Issue

October 8th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Essence

Source: Essence

Queen Latifah is returning to her favorite magazine for their November cover. You guessed it, it’s Essence. 

The publication dubbed November the career issue, so it only makes sense that Queen Latifah, being the renaissance woman that she is, with at least five jobs, would cover the book.

Essence asked her what’s the secret behind her success and how does she find happiness with so many careers?

Latifah said, “I’m one of those people who has to stretch or I get bored–and I’m easily bored.”

In addition to all the things she has on her plate, Queen La is also working with BET to produce original programming for Centric, which is now being dedicated to Black women, through her entertainment company, Flavor Unit.

And as if that weren’t enough, Latifah will also portray the 1920’s Blues singer Bessie Smith in an HBO biopic. Queen Latifah’s admiration for Smith was clear as she had plenty to say about her.

“She influenced rock and roll, with an effect on everybody from Mick Jagger to Janis Joplin. She was the first Black performer to appear before an integrated audience. She chased away Ku Klux Klansmen when they tried to set fire to a tent where she was performing.”

Just because Latifah is diversifying, doesn’t mean she’s giving up on her daytime talk show host gig. In fact she has some big plans for the show. While she’s happy with the successful ratings and how it’s been embraced by the community, she also wants to continue to build. “I want it to be a hit on my terms.”

Ok then, lady!

It’ll be interesting to see the moves she’s able to make.

“You’re Not At Essence Anymore”: Former Senior Editor Of People Sues Mag, Says They’re Biased Against Blacks

August 21st, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Tatsha Robertson was the first and only black person to be hired on as a senior editor at People, and according to her, she was one of the few black people who worked for the publication in general (she says five out of 110 were black…). Because of this, Robertson said that she often dealt with racist remarks from her employers and was treated poorly by former Executive Editor Betsy Gleick. Despite the fact that both Robertson and Gleick were fired in June, the former senior editor is suing her and the magazine for alleged discrimination.

Robertson previously worked as Deputy Editor at Essence, but in 2010,  she was offered the opportunity to take her talents to People. But when she got there, according to the New York Daily News, who has viewed the suit, she was talked to crazy on more than one occasion. She claims that Gleick told her, “You need to talk like everyone else here. You’re not at Essence anymore.” It’s unclear if that comment was in reference to Robertson’s writing style or the way she verbally communicated, but either way…that’s jacked up.

Robertson also says that she was met with a great deal of opposition when she would try and pitch more pieces on black people. She claims that the magazine only wanted to focus, outside of celebrities, on stories that had to do with “white, middle-class suburbia.” When the magazine put Trayvon Martin on the cover in 2012, she says doing so was like pulling teeth.

“Ms. Gleick was completely obsessed with attempting to unearth any potential negative fact about him before doing so. Ms. Gleick repeatedly questioned whether he was a ‘good kid,’ yet never made efforts to vet white victims of crime.”

While Robertson had major issues with Gleick, she says the magazine as a whole is bias. She pointed out in legal papers for the suit that only two covers out of 60 featured black faces front and center last year, and only 14 out of 265 have featured a black person/star on the cover since she joined the magazine.

She is looking to obtain an unspecified amount of money from the magazine, Time Inc. and Betsy Gleick.

I don’t have the lowdown on who is racist and who isn’t, but I assumed it was common knowledge that a lot of popular mainstream magazines aren’t trying to feature many black people and their stories, especially not on the cover. Hell, when Nelson Mandela died he was only given a small picture in the corner of the cover…

But what do you think about her suit? Will she come out on top?

“Think Like A Man Too” Fans Pissed Essence Cover Left Out Non-Black Cast Members Jerry Ferrara, Gary Owen

June 6th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Ben Watts

Ben Watts

As we told you this week, both the women and men of Think Like A Man Too are featured on dual covers of Essence this month. The photos look amazing, the covers are quite cute, and when I posted about both covers this week, I thought everyone would be crazy about them. Turns out, something, or some people were missing, and that bothered some Think Like A Man Too fans.

You see, for the men’s cover, cast members Jerry Ferrara (who plays Jeremy, Gabrielle Union’s character’s fiance), Gary Owen (the hilarious comedian is friend to the crew, Bennett), and new addition to the cast, former OC star Adam Brody, are not present. They’re not in the photo spread either. But producer Will Packer is featured on both the cover and inside the mag. Seeing that Essence is a magazine catered to black women, it wouldn’t be surprising that they would want to let the black male characters (and in this case, producer too) shine on their own, but fans of the movie, both black and white, took to social media to let people know that they noticed the omission.

“They forgot the white guys, or nah?”

“I wouldn’t expect the two white actors to be on the cover if they didn’t have leading roles, but at least Jerry should have been included, as he had the same screen time as the others and his role was just as important.”

“Just because this is a ‘black’ magazine, intentionally disregarding the two white men from the movie is reckless. It’s 2014, Essence. It is ok to be inclusive of other races on the front cover, not just showing different shades of black #disappointed”

Soooo…they just gonna leave Jerry Ferara and Gary Owen out?!?! Oh ok”

“Won’t be supporting this issue. (Would have) been a great cover shoot had all male cast members been represented. #diversity & #inclusion should apply across the board, not just when it pertains to ‘minorities'”

“They should have included Jerry and Gary…it’s only fair. They are in the movie too. If it was reversed and the only two black stars in a summer hit movie were missing from a magazine cover, we would kick up a big stink about it.”

I don’t really feel strongly one way or the other, but it is true that if something like this was done to a black actor (like when TV Guide put the main stars from Person of Interest on the cover…except for Taraji), we would have been a little peeved. But is Owen upset? He promoted the cover on his Instagram and joked about the exclusion:

“Check out the latest Essence Magazine. Before anyone asks where is @jerrycferrara & myself. 5 guys is what the cover called for. Also the guy in hat is @willpowerpacker he’s the reason any if us guys are in #thinklikeamantoo So congrats@romanymalco @easydoesitdoitealy @iamterrencej@kevinhart4real cover looks AWESOME!! me Jerry are currently filming our Bass Pro Shop commercial.”

But what do you think? Should Ferrara and Owen (and Brody too) have been included in some way in the photo shoot? Or are people overreacting? Talk about it.

Not Just The Ladies: The Men Of “Think Like A Man Too” Cover Essence Alongside The Ladies [Photos]

June 5th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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men of Think Like A Man Too

Essence – Ben Watts

Looking good fellas!

We told you earlier this week that the ladies of Think Like A Man Too are featured on the July issue of Essence, but they’re not the only ones! The magazine will actually be doing a double cover issue, with the second cover featuring the fellas of the film–with the exception of Jerry Ferrara, who was swapped out for handsome producer Will Packer. Exclusive shots from the new issue have been made available through Essence, and not only are they colorful (literally), but they’re hot! While the ladies have fun poolside, the fellas hit the green for some golf and do some barbecuing while bonding. If they look like they’re having a ball, it’s because they are. As Packer told the mag, “There was such a chemistry between that cast. The fact is that this crew really is a family.”

Once again, the sequel doesn’t drop until June 20, but until then, enjoy taking a peek at all the fun these folks had shooting for July’s “Body Issue” below and on the next page.

Ben Watts

Ben Watts

Ben Watts

Ben Watts

Ya’ll Fine! Meagan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union And The Ladies Of “Think Like A Man Too” Cover Essence

June 3rd, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Looking good ladies! And I must say that the hair and the smiles are popping!

For the magazine’s second annual “Body Issue,” Meagan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, La La Anthony and Regina Hall are front and center on the cover of Essence Magazine’s July issue. The ladies, dressed in all white and smiling it up while looking like best friends forever (BFFs), look fabulous on the cover, as they promote Think Like A Man Too, which comes out on June 20. Promotion for the movie is now being kicked into overdrive.

The synopsis for the sequel goes a little something like this:

“…all the couples are back for a wedding in Las Vegas. But plans for a romantic weekend go awry when their various misadventures get them into some compromising situations that threaten to derail the big event.”

After the massive success of the first film, which raked in a surprising $96 million worldwide for a budget of only $12 million, Essence decided to give the ensemble cast some shine (ladies only of course), and they’re most definitely shining (and white hot!) on the cover of this new issue.

Will you check out Think Like A Man Too when it comes out later this month? Were you a big fan of the first film?

EBONY Puts Jay Z, Beyoncé, Kanye And Rihanna On Covers For Black Music Month; Prince Covers Essence

May 5th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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If you weren’t aware, June is Black Music Month, and to celebrate the month, EBONY decided to show some love to four folks who are dominating not only black music, but the music scene in general. Ironically, they’re all part of the same clique. Kanye is labeled “The Poet,” Rihanna “The Rebel,” Jay “The Mogul,” and Beyoncé “The Diva.” So why these four? According to EBONY:

“In celebration of Black Music Month, EBONY magazine pays tribute to the industry’s leaders, pioneers and game changers. Inside the June issue, EBONY honors both the present-day success stories and the giants who paved the way. The issue is a four-cover series, with BeyoncéJay ZKanye West and Rihanna gracing the covers as a salute to their unprecedented impact on Black music.”

So not only will the June issue celebrate these four innovators, it will also shine a light on the many other talented black folks making an impact on the music scene. All four covers are set to hit stands tomorrow, so be on the lookout.


And you should also keep your eyes open for this new Essence cover, which will get you prepared for Essence Music Festival! Festival headliner Prince graces the cover (with just enough hints of purple in the Essence logo in his honor) and inside the issue, is followed around after one of his electric shows. With a new band and an experimental funky new sound, Prince also talks about how the music he makes now compares to his sounds from the past. Prince also gets the chance to interview musical legend Nile Rodgers, whose name is on everyone’s lips again due to his production work on Daft Punk’s most recent work, the Grammy award winning album, Random Access Memories. All kinds of greatness gracing the pages of the June issue.

Are you excited? Will you be picking up these new issues? Talk about it!



Ask And You Shall Receive: Oprah Gives Gown She Wore On Essence Cover To Fan On Twitter

March 11th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Oprah is just…everything.

How many times have you looked at a famous person dressed up fancy in a magazine or on a fashion post and thought, ‘she needs to let me have that!’ when it comes to a particular item of clothing they’re wearing? Well, in the case of a Twitter follower of Oprah, simply asking for a a super expensive and gorgeous gown the mogul was seen wearing helped her get it in a flash.

According to The Huffington Post, a follower was in love with the feathered gown Oprah wore on the cover of the February issue of Essence, the cover that featured her, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan and Chiwetel Ejiofor. The gown, is a stunning Brian Rennie for Basler gown.

@oprah you look beautiful in that essence cover pic. WOW. CAN I please have that dress? Cuz I know u won’t wear again lol luv u

Surprisingly, Oprah responded to the woman, saying:

@snobaby28 you’re right I won’t wear ever again contact my asst. and show her this tweet.

The follower wasn’t expecting a response, but as soon as she got won, she followed Oprah’s directions and hit up her people ASAP. Less than a week later, on February 21, the Atlanta native received the gown and took to Twitter to thank Lady O for her kindness:

@Oprah THANK YOU! Recv beautiful dress. Plan to wear at my wedding when I find a groom lol but will twt pic wearing it soon. Luv u to life!

Clearly I need to start hitting up Rihanna for all the freebies in her wardrobe if Ms. Brandi could get gifted such a fancy and pricey dress from the Queen of Talk. It just goes to show how giving Oprah is…and how lucky this Twitter follower is too!


Nia Long On How She Handles Raising Her Sons: “My Mantra Is You Created This, You Can Handle It”

March 6th, 2014 - By Brande Victorian
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Nia Long Covers Essence

Essence’s favorite cover girl is back front and center on their April 2014 issue and this picture alone tells us why Nia Long is talking about “keeping it sexy after 40.” The mother of two is also discussing her new role in Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club and, naturally, her own role in real life raising two sons. Nia told the mag of her day-to-day life raising 13-year-old Massai and 2-year-old Kez with boyfriend Ime Udoka:

“I’m not a movie star mom who’s got a private chef, a nanny and a driver. My mantra is, ‘You created this, you can handle it.'”

You certainly can’t be mad at that approach, though the idea of juggling a teen, a toddler, and a job all at once sounds overwhelming just thinking about it. Not for Nia, though, who said:

 “I think that if you’re committed to being a great mother, single or not, you’re going to enjoy every moment you have with your children. I love when it’s just the three of us and no one can see how silly we’re acting. The preciousness of it all makes the tough days a little bit easier.”

Nia’s sons would clearly agree. In addition to her feature, the actress’s oldest son Massai also penned a love letter to his mom in Essence, thanking her for all she does for their family, writing:

“You are loving, and are always there for me and my little brother…You have taught me to have a voice and fear nothing but the Lord.”

How sweet!

Essence’s April 2014 issue hits newsstands tomorrow.

Missy Elliot Reveals Reason Behind Hiatus From Music

February 8th, 2014 - By rcollier2
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"Missy Elliott pf"



From Essence

Although Missy Elliott hasn’t graced the world with a new album in nearly nine years, she is considered to be one music’s most unique and game-changing female rapper-producers.

According to the LA Times, Elliott recently opened up on Yahoo’s “The Yo Show” about her hiatus from music and revealed that fans might have to hold tight a little longer before she drops another album.

“When I create something, it’s gotta be special and it can’t just be to throw something out there because I feel like I’m Missy,” she explained to Michael Yo via video chat.

To read more about why Missy’s been missing from the game, read the full story at Essence