ESSENCE House: Hollywood Edition
The support, appreciation and love seeping through every black woman at the ESSENCE House: Hollywood Edition was overwhelming. There's levels to this, and this showed the need for gatherings of this magnitude in not only Los Angeles, but the United States as a whole for women of color. As the many panelist’s for the event spoke wisdom, experience and encouragement, private screenings of Lena Waithe's new show, TWENTIES, premiering on BET was playing in the room next door.
Heavy-hitters in the entertainment industry, behind the scenes and in front of the camera joined and discussed their individual paths to success.
The Lights, Camera, Leadership: A View From Top panel was a valuable breathe of fresh air for any young aspiring executive of color. Pearlena Igbokwe: President of Universal TV, Vanessa Morrison: President of FOX Family and Tina Perry: President of OWN sat for a candid conversation moderated by Michelle Ebanks, President of ESSENCE Communications. The dynamic women discussed the importance of constructive criticism, and receiving feedback in an environment that doesn't represent them culturally. They also discussed the importance of receiving encouragement as a leader, while discovering personal weaknesses and strengthening them. The greatest takeaways that I received was to be a great listener and lead people in the manner you would want to be led. To say the least, this was an overload of black girl magic and corporate insight.
The Heard: The Sounds of Hollywood panel was an in-depth look into the music industry regarding soundtracks and how one can assist in telling more impactful stories. The panel included music executives Chaka Zulu: Head of Artists and Talent Relations for Spotify, Lindsey Lanier, Vice President of A&R at Motown and Kathryn Bostic: longtime Composer and Artist, moderated by Rachaell Davis, Senior Editor for Live Events at ESSENCE. It was a treat to see these executives talk about the moving influence of music in their lives and how they translate it into their work on an interactive level. It was refreshing to hear Kathryn Bostic stress the importance of claiming your autonomy as an artist and creative. Lindsey Lanier detailed her experience as an A&R, working with artists and developing their sound for music with artists like Tiana Major9. Chaka Zulu detailed how his background with his musical family, ultimately pushed him to do what he loved with a business point of view, despite an original plan. The conclusion of the discussion resulted in reiterating the importance of black executives in the music industry.
One of the biggest highlights was watching young Hollywood actors Sofia Wylie, Lyric Ross and Lexi Underwood speak for the Girls United Presents: Keeping It Z- Hollywood's Next Generation panel with Girls United Founder Rechelle Dennis and Senior Entertainment Editor of Essence, Joi-Marie McKenzie -as the moderators. The young women passionately expressed the importance of their support systems, what inspires them and what keeps them moving as creatives and influencers in todays industry. They spoke as the voice of their generation and assured that it is in good hands.