Jan 15, 2013, 10:00 ET from Essence Communications Inc.

NEW YORK, Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- ESSENCE, the preeminent brand for African-American women, will recognize the extraordinary achievements of Black women in film and television with its 6th annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, taking place on February 21, 2013 at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

ESSENCE will honor six of the industry's most inspiring African-American female talents, both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes, with an esteemed Black Women in Hollywood Award: Oprah Winfrey (Power Award); Alfre Woodard (Vanguard Award); Gabrielle Union (Fierce & Fearless Award); Mara Brock-Akil (Visionary Award); Naomie Harris (Lincoln Shining Star Award); and 2013 Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (Breakthrough Performance).

One of Hollywood's most anticipated events during awards season, this star-studded affair commemorates ESSENCE magazine's annual Hollywood issue (March), which will be available on newsstands on February 8. is giving fans exclusive access to the style and substance of Black Women in Hollywood by live streaming all the red-carpet action, including interviews with the stars, starting at 11:30 a.m. PST/2:30 p.m. EST and re-airing that evening at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST.

"The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon recognizes the 'Power of our Presence', by spotlighting the stellar accomplishments of African-American female performers and creators in film and television," says ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief, Constance C.R. White.  "More importantly, the annual luncheon serves as a source of support and inspiration for the incredibly talented community of Black women who are often overlooked in Hollywood."

Since its inception in 2008, the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood event has honored some of the most cherished figures in the industry, including: Octavia Spencer, Pam Grier, Halle Berry, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Angela Bassett, Queen Latifah, Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis, Jennifer Hudson, Zoe Saldana, Mary J. Blige, Gabourey Sidibe, Jurnee Smollett, Ruby Dee, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Loretta Devine, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Suzanne de Passe.  As a highlight of Oscar week, this elegant luncheon has hosted much of Hollywood's elite, including Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Amy Adams, Emma Stone, Jordin Sparks, Samuel L. Jackson, Forest Whitaker, James Cameron, Terrence Howard, and Laurence Fishburne, among many others. 

Stay tuned to for highlights and behind-the-scenes access to ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood.  Follow us on Twitter @essencemag #EssenceRedCarpet.  Join in the discussion on Facebook.

The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon is presented by Lincoln, and sponsored by L'Oreal Paris, smartwater and Target.

About the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood honorees:

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is one of the most iconic names in the global entertainment industry. Through the power of media, Oprah Winfrey has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world.  As supervising producer and host of the top-rated, award-winning "The Oprah Winfrey Show," she entertained, enlightened and uplifted millions of viewers for 25 years.  Today she has her own network (OWN), which creates quality programming. Her accomplishments as a global media leader and philanthropist have established her as one of the most respected and admired public figures today.

Alfre Woodard
Alfre Woodard's work as an actor has earned her an Oscar nomination, four Emmy Awards with 17 Emmy nominations, three SAG Awards and a Golden Globe.  She was most recently Emmy nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of Ruby Jean Reynolds on the hit HBO show, True Blood. Woodard's illustrious body of work includes her Oscar nominated performance in Martin Ritt's Cross Creek; HBO's Mandela, in which she was honored with an ACE Award for her portrayal of Winnie Mandela; Lawrence Kasdan's Grand Canyon; John SaylesPassion Fish; Joseph Sargent's Miss Evers' Boys, for which she won an Emmy, SAG and Golden Globe Award; Spike Lee's Crooklyn; Gina Prince-Bythewood's Love and Basketball; Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys; Maya Angelou's Down In The Delta; and Lifetime's remake of the film Steel Magnolias. Woodard also enjoys philanthropic work and currently serves on the National Film Preservation Foundation Board, as well as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences International Outreach Committee. Woodard is a longtime activist and a co-founder of "Artists for a New South Africa," a non-profit working to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, and further the cause of Democracy and Human rights in South Africa. In 2009 she was appointed by President Barack Obama to the "President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities."

Gabrielle Union
One of today's hottest stars, Gabrielle Union, continues to shine.  With credits that include features on both the big and small screens, Gabrielle has made her mark as one of the leading African-American actresses in Hollywood.  Gabrielle can soon be seen in BET's first scripted series, "Being Mary Jane."  Her resume includes Screen Gems' hit film, Think Like A Man, the blockbuster hit Bad Boys II, Universal's cult hit Bring It On, Lionsgate's Good Deeds as well as shows like UPN's hit comedy Moesha, NBC's ER, Ugly Betty and more.  Gabrielle's passion for acting is rivaled by her involvement as an Ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, as well as her support for the Young Survivor Coalition (YSC) and the Rape Treatment Center (RTC) at UCLA.   In addition, she continues to serve as one of the faces of Neutrogena, as she has for more than 7 years.

Mara Brock-Akil
Not only is Mara Brock-Akil an acclaimed businesswoman, skilled writer, and proficient producer, but she uses her career to advance and challenge the entertainment business. Mara strives with every project to affect, encourage, and entertain all who watch and work with her.   Beginning with shows like Moesha and The Jamie Foxx Show, Mara's impact was felt all across America with the creation of her first series, Girlfriends. Ensuring success, Brock-Akil partnered her company, Happy Camper Productions, with both Kelsey Grammer's Gramnet Productions and CBS Paramount. The groundbreaking show garnered numerous awards and ran for 172 episodes over eight seasons. During the sixth season of Girlfriends, she created the fan favorite spin-off The Game, which is preparing for its sixth season. In 2012, Akil Productions released her screenplay SPARKLE, starring the late Whitney Houston and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks.  Currently she is hard at work prepping for production of her new show Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union.

Naomie Harris
As a critically acclaimed actress in film, television, and theatre in Britain and America, Naomie Harris is making a name for herself with each of her luminous performances. Harris currently stars in the most recent James Bond installment, Skyfall, opposite Daniel Craig and recently wrapped production on the Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk To Freedom opposite Idris Elba.  The London-born actress had her first major breakthrough performance in 2002 with Danny Boyle's 28 Days and went on to receive further international recognition and critical acclaim for her role as Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Harris has won various awards including Best Actress at the Monte Carlo Television Festival (2003), Rising Star Tribute Award at the Bahamas International Film Festival (2007), Best Actress at the Screen Nation Awards (2003 & 2009) and Best Actress at The Royal Television Society Awards (2010).

Quvenzhane Wallis
Since playing Hushpuppy in the acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quvenzhane Wallis has become the youngest actress in the history of the Academy Awards to be nominated for Best Actress. This was her first role.  The 9-year old Louisiana native is the daughter of Venjie Sr. and Qulyndreia Wallis.  Qunyquekya, Venjie Jr., and Vejon are her siblings.  Her favorite pastimes are reading, singing, dancing, acting, and playing her iPod and Nintendo DS.  Her favorite TV stars/singers are China McClain, Selena Gomez, and Miley Cyrus, and her favorite food is stir-fry Alfredo Chicken.  Her favorite sports are basketball, volleyball, dance and cheerleading.

About Essence Communications Inc.:
Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, with a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online.  The company's flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the ESSENCE  FestivalESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in MusicWindow on Our Women and Smart Beauty consumer insights series, the ESSENCE Book, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 42 years, ESSENCE, which has a brand reach of over 8 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information and specific solutions relating to every area of African-American women's lives.  Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at

SOURCE Essence Communications Inc.