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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — The speeches by the recipients of Essence magazine’s 11th annual Black Women in Hollywood Awards have a theme: We are here, and we will be seen.

“Black Panther” and “The Walking Dead” star Danai Gurira, “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Westworld” actress Tessa Thompson, Emmy-winning writer and actress Lena Waithe and comedian Tiffany Haddish were recognized by the magazine Thursday in Beverly Hills, California.

The powerhouse room at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel was filled with Oscar winners and superstars, including Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Ava DuVernay, Janelle Monae, “Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya, Amandla Stenberg and Rosario Dawson.

“Insecure” actress Yvonne Orji hosted the program, which the Oprah Winfrey Network will air on Saturday as a special.

“Essence is so black right now, they just picked up distribution in Wakanda,” Orji said, joking about the fictional African nation depicted in “Black Panther.”

Every honoree spoke about how meaningful it has been to see images of themselves in the magazine — one of the few pop-culture places where black women are regularly depicted as beautiful heroines.

Gurira, who hails from Zimbabwe, spoke so passionately about women and equality that Orji declared, “Danai Gurira 2020.”

“She took us to church and the mountaintop,” Orji said.

Other speakers included Monae, Bassett, DuVernay and Lil Rel Howery of “Get Out.”

Both Thompson and Waithe talked about the power of feeling seen. Waithe cited one of her favorite films as a child, “The Wizard of Oz,” as she implored other non-binary entertainers to, “Come out, come out, where ever you are.”

The recipients of the Black Women in Hollywood Awards are featured in the March issue of Essence magazine.


AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen is at .


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