Hollywood’s most stylish, beautiful, and talented women walked the red carpet at the 11th Annual Essence Black Women In Hollywood luncheon at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Honorees included Tessa Thompson, Janelle Monae, Tiffany Haddish, and Black Panther‘s incredible Danai Gurira. But it was Master of None‘s Lena Waithe (above) who brought down the house.
Speaking to crowd that included luminaries like Angela Bassett, Ava DuVernay and Lupita Nyong’o, Waithe urged women to be more open about their sexuality and said they must be beacons for a younger generation.
The actress/writer/producer said she knows why those in the spotlight are “still hiding. Hiding because we don’t want to lose an endorsement deal. Hiding because they want to be ‘normal.’ Hiding because we don’t want to make white folks uneasy. But most of all, hiding because we don’t want to make our own people uncomfortable.”
But, she continued: “Being born gay, black and female is not a revolutionary act. Being proud to be a gay black female is.” Huge applause in the ballroom followed.
She then made a moving reference to one of her favorite movies as a child, The Wizard of Oz.
“There’s this moment in the movie when Dorothy’s presence interrupts the peace of Oz, which forces all the Munchkins to run and hide. So Glinda the Good Witch tells them to stop hiding. She tells them to come out: ‘Come out, wherever you are. Don’t be afraid.’ It’s interesting how things you hear as a kid take on a whole new meaning as an adult. Her words still ring loudly in my ears, especially today,” she said.
“So I ask those of you that are still hiding to come out. Come out, wherever you are, please don’t be afraid. And I hope that you know that I’m here to hold your hand whenever you decide to jump into this wonderful pool of people who refuse to be hidden. The water is warm.”
Powerful. Amazing. Great to hear.
The Black Women In Hollywood Awards ceremony in full when it airs on OWN this Saturday, March 3 at 10 pm.
Below: Gabourey Sidibe, Janelle Monae, Tina Knowles, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Danai Guria, Retta, and Tia Lowry.
(Photos: MediaPunch; via USA Today)