Filmmakers, actors, singers, and the who’s who of black Hollywood flocked to the annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon yesterday (Feb. 21).
R&B singer Kelly Rowland hosted the 12th annual luncheon that was themed “Power of Our Presence”. It took place at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and honored Black-ish star Jenifer Lewis, Girls Trip star Regina Hall, If Beale Street Could Talk actress KiKi Layne, and The Hate U Give‘s Amandla Stenberg.
Beyonce’s mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, director Spike Lee, actress Sanaa Lathan, actress and television director Regina King, hip-hop icon Diddy, actress Angela Bassett, singers Chloe x Halle, and filmmaker Ava Duvernay were in attendance, among others.
During the star-studded celebration, celebrities began speaking about Empire actor Jussie Smollett’s case, indirectly and directly, according to USA Today.
The R&B singer and actor was recently charged by the Chicago Police Department for allegedly filing a false report about an alleged hate crime.
If you follow Jenifer Lewis on Instagram, you’d know that the actress and author often breaks out into song, and the ESSENCE luncheon was no different than her Instagram account.
“Before you lie to us, remember Rosa sat on that bus / Before you tell your tale, remember Mandela sat in that jail / Before you do anything, remember Dr. Martin Luther King / Before you connive and steal, I dare you to Google Emmett Till,” Lewis sang. “Before another dawn, after this mess, before another dawn, and I speak to everyone, remember whose shoulders you stand on.”
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) spoke more directly about Smollet’s case, stating, “I’m so worried, and I just want it to be over with. I’m sorry if, in fact, he disappointed us. I want to wait until the final answer and results, but it’s a tragedy if, in fact, it’s a hoax.”
Think Like a Man star Meagan Good said that she’s not sure if she believes the press.
“I don’t trust what the media is saying,” Good said. “I don’t know if I believe what the media is saying. The person that I know Jussie to be is not that person. That’s where I stand.”
HBO’s Insecure actress Yvonne Orji also chimed in on the hot topic.
“With a lot of people who are genuinely confused right now,” Orji said. “We don’t know what to make of it.”
Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth.