For the first time, this year’s awards will be presented at an evening gala. Actress Gabrielle Union will host the event, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. Contemporary artist Mickalene Thomas will help design the décor, drawing on the theme of female empowerment.
The event is set to honor Hollywood’s “Next Generation,” with Monáe receiving the Breakthrough Performance Award, previously given to Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Lupita Nyong’o. Rae will be honored with the Vanguard Award, Aja Naomi King will take home the Lincoln Shining Star Award and Black-ish star Yara Shahidi will receive the Generation Next Award.
“For the past decade, the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards have paid homage to our modern image-makers — both in front of the camera and behind the scenes,” Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca said in a statement. “This past year has been an exceptional one for diversity in film and television, and with the incredible contributions of Janelle, Issa, Aja and Yara, it is fitting that our 10th anniversary will honor the future of Hollywood and its continued steps on the path to inclusion.”