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The third annual Essence Black Women in Film luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Thursday pulled in major league celebrities like Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Cecily Tyson, Pauletta Washington, Taraji P. Henson, Serena Williams, Gabourey Sidibe and Joy Bryant.

James Cameron, nominated for Best Picture Oscar this year for “Avatar” presented the Rising Star award to Zoe Saldana, whom he affectionately referred to as a “potty mouth” at the event, after extolling the “Avatar” actress’ grace and elegance.

“Make no mistake,” Cameron said, “Zoe is from Brooklyn, and she can go street in a heartbeat.” Humor aside, the afternoon was filled with plenty of emotion. Jada Pinkett Smith held back tears as she explained that she was flying back East for her father’s funeral, but persevered as she presented the Power Award to Queen Latifah. “I was just overwhelmed,” said Latifah, who openly cried. Observed Joy Bryant, “”This is the first time I’ve been to this event, and I’ve never laughed so hard and cried so much at once.”

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