2015 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards: ‘OITNB’ Cast, Gugu Mbatha-Raw Honored

8th Annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon - Show

Essence magazine honored famous black women during their annual Black women in Hollywood Awards. The event which takes place during the week leading up to the Academy Awards spotlights women who are “pushing the limits, raising the bar and breaking through barriers in both film and television.”

At this year’s event, honorees included Regina King for the Fierce & Fearless Award; Gugu Mbatha-Raw for the Lincoln Breakthrough of the Year Award; and costume designer Ruth E. Carter for the Visionary Award.

Also amongst honorees was the cast of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black. Lupita Nyong’o presented Adrienne C. Moore, Danielle Brooks, Laverne Cox, Lorraine Toussaint, Samira Wiley, Uzo Aduba and Vicky Leudy with the Vanguard Award, which marks the first time a group has been given the award. The group crowded the stage to accept the word, giving an emotional acceptance speech.

“We’ve all been told we’re too tall, too fat, too black, not woman enough,” Brooks said. “I’ve learned we’re right the way we are. … I hope we continue to inspire people with all we are and the essence of who we are.”

The awards luncheon usually does not broadcast on television, but Oprah Winfrey Network announced that it will air the “Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards,” for the very first time.

“The ‘Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards’ have become one of the most distinguished events in Hollywood, celebrating the year’s standout performances and behind the scenes accomplishments from iconic, trailblazing African-American women who are reshaping the cinematic and television landscape,” said Sheri Salata, president, OWN and Harpo Studios. “We are humbled in the trust that Essence has placed in us to bring this moving and poignant event to television for the first time, allowing a broader audience to experience the emotion of this powerful celebration.”

“Together with OWN, we are proud to extend the reach of the ‘Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards’ and share this important recognition of our leading ladies who are creating, performing and calling the shots,” said Essence president Michelle Ebanks. “Over the past seven years, Essence has celebrated the power of our presence in Hollywood, and this first-time television special is certain to broaden the conversation around images in media, personal inspiration and empowerment for women around the world.”

Essence magazine’s annual Black Women in Hollywood Awards was held in Beverly Hills. Hosted by Tracey Edmonds and Shemar Moore, the special will air this Saturday, February 21 at 10 pm ET/PT on OWN.

(Photo Credit: Twitter)