On Feb. 24, Essence magazine’s Black Women in Hollywood Gala will celebrate its 10th anniversary as an annual event during Oscar Week. This year’s honorees include Issa Rae, Janelle Monáe, Aja Naomi King and Yara Shahidi.
Those women are the newest in a long line of accomplished honorees which began in 2008 with Jada Pinkett Smith, who appeared on the magazine’s March cover. The following year, Essence evolved the event to a multiple-honoree format and showcased Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Diahann Carroll.
In 2010, the list grew even longer to include Queen Latifah, Zoe Saldana, Mary J. Blige, Cicely Tyson, Gabourey Sidibe and Mikki Taylor. Next, in 2011, it was Viola Davis, Loretta Devine, Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson.
The following year was a breakout one for Octavia Spencer, who won her first Oscar, as well as Paula Patton, Kerry Washington, Pam Grier and Shonda Rhimes. In 2013, the list of honorees included Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (the young star was up for Best Supporting Actress), as well as Naomie Harris (who this year is nominated in the same category), Oprah Winfrey, Gabrielle Union and Alfre Woodard.
Lupita Nyong’o led the list of honorees in 2014 (she went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress), alongside the president of the Motion Picture Academy Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay.
In 2015 the magazine presented honors to the entire cast of Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” as well as Regina King, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Ruth Carter, winner of the magazine’s inaugural short film contest.
Last year the BWIH gala, now an evening event, honored Debbie Allen, Tracee Ellis Ross and Nina Shaw. To be sure, many of the aforementioned women have also returned to present awards to their peers, and additional presenters have included men such as Will Smith, Common, Lee Daniels, James Cameron, Michael Patrick, Forest Whitaker, Sidney Poitier, David Oyelowo, Spike Lee and Cuba Gooding Jr.