ESSENCE Hollywood House takes place annually during Oscars Week in Hollywood, CA. This free event is an opportunity for Black creatives to be educated by industry insiders and celebrities, and connect with one another.  

This year marked the third annual Essence Hollywood House, an event that had live panels and workshops for creatives with meaningful conversations and actionable steps to promote inclusivity in Hollywood. It’s a really inspiring event for Black creators, and offered the opportunity to be educated while empowering each other. In fact, my favorite part was the invaluable networking that I was able to do while at the event!

ESSENCE Hollywood House panel featuring Larenz Tate

The event began with opening remarks from Caroline Wanga, CEO of Essence Communications, then moved into Hollywood Rising: A New Class of Excellence. After that, Disney’s Women of Onyx Collective shared its mission to highlight creators of color and the stories that they want to tell. It was a privilege to hear insight directly from Black women working behind the scenes to create such powerful narratives. Cori Murray, a legend at Essence Magazine, moderated this portion of the event with speakers Jihan Robinson, Raamla Mohamed, and Natasha Rothwell. 

If you ever wondered what it takes to nail an audition, land a dream role, or take the next leap into a career in casting, the Same Script, Different Cast workshop panel answered those questions! This panel featured lead casting directors that shared their unfiltered perspectives on what it takes to make an audition shine. They were even generous enough to take questions from the audience!

ESSENCE Hollywood House panel featuring top producers and casting agencies

Speaking of inspiration for aspiring actors, one of the highlights of the event was a panel featuring Shoniqua Shandai, a fan favorite from the show Harlem, Amber Riley, best known for her role in Glee, and Coco Jones, an influential singer and star of the hit show Bel Air. It was an honest conversation about staying true to your values, not compromising your culture for fame, and how to stay authentic in the public eye. Finally, the Hollywood House event ended with an intimate fireside chat with Kyla Pratt, who discussed her extraordinary career journey, and some of the tea on the Proud Family reboot.

ESSENCE Hollywood House event panel moderated by Steve Jones on the Perfect Pitch

The Essence Hollywood House event is an invaluable experience if you’re a part of the creative community. Although the event is catered towards actors, directors, and writers, there is also a lot to be learned for influencers and content creators. You just never know who you might meet, and even though there was plenty of star power in the building, a point that was emphasized was the opportunity to connect with those who may be the “next big thing.”  The interactive conversations and engaging Q&As were just a cherry on top. If you have the opportunity to go next year, I highlight recommend it!

Stay tuned for more exclusive Hollywood event coverage!

If you weren’t able to attend, you can watch the full recap here:



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