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Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson was the star of the Essence “Black Women in Hollywood” luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Thursday. “I would love for Taraji to be the surprise hit of the Oscars. That would truly make my night,” said Vivica A. Fox.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button actress was feeling the love. “Black women in Hollywood, we have a lot of odds stacked against us and that could turn really negative and competitive,” Henson said. “But we continue to uplift each other and inspire each other, and now that they’ve started this luncheon I look forward to this every year.” “We have so much talent amongst African-American women, and we don’t always get recognized the way I think we should,” said Sanaa Lathan. “This is a day to celebrate that.” And all of the guests agreed that even in these difficult times, there’s nothing wrong with toasting what’s good.


“I don’t think anyone should ever feel guilty for celebration,” said Tracee Ellis Ross. “In hard times, you do need to take those moments that are joyous and enjoy them. After the inauguration nothing could be as exciting…There is an appropriate and a beautiful place for the celebration of the arts, and the Oscars is the epitome of that.” Queen Latifah said, “We thrive through hard times. That is the history of our people. We pull together and that’s just what we do.” Henson, who plans to bring her mom and grandmother to Sunday’s ceremony, got choked up as she accepted her Lexus Star to Watch Award, as did Halle Berry, who picked up a Power Award. “I’m truly a wimp,” Berry said as tears streamed down her perfectly made-up face. “I haven’t won an award in awhile. You know how I do it,” she quipped as boyfriend Gabriel Aubry looked on.


Attendees also included presenters Samuel L. Jackson and Terence Howard; Diahann Carroll, who received the Legend Award; and Anika Noni Rosi, who sang “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” as part of the Eartha Kitt Tribute.

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