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Constance C.R. White, Shawn Lollie, Michelle Ebanks

*On Thursday, February 23, 2012 — just three days before the exciting 84th Annual Academy Awards broadcast – Essence magazine hosted its 5th annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  The star-studded exclusive event is one of the most eagerly awaited affairs hosted during Oscar week and attracted the crème de la crème of Hollywood’s elite A-list.

The delightful luncheon honored the industry’s most exciting African American talent — both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes in Hollywood.  This year’s commendable honorees — cited for having left an indelible impression with their work within the film and television industries — included Kerry Washington (vanguard award), Octavia Spencer (breakthrough performance), Pam Grier (legend award) and Paula Patton (shining star award).

Shawn Lollie, Ford Motor Company, multicultural marketing manager, presented the Lincoln visionary award to Shondra Rhimes, creator and executive producer of the television hits “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.”  Lincoln is the luxury automotive brand for Ford Motor Company.

Lollie beamed with pride as she presented a joyful Rhimes with the award.  “African American women are extremely influential in the premium market space and their buying power is growing,” noted Lollie.  “Events like these allow us the opportunity to introduce our vehicles to contemporary consumers while honoring one of the most influential writers and producers in Hollywood, Shonda, with our Visionary Award.”

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Honorees Paula Patton, Kerry Washington, Pam Grier, Shonda Rhimes, Octavia Spencer

As luminaries arrived at the Lincoln Lounge they happily posed with the new luxury 2013 Lincoln MKS full-size sedan which will be available this spring.  The VIP guests were transported to and from the event in ten other luxurious Lincoln vehicles via the VIP/celebrity shuttle service.

“We are really excited to partner with ESSENCE for the third year for the Black Women in Hollywood luncheon,” added Lollie.  “The premium technologies, performance and craftsmanship of the new MKS make it the perfect vehicle for the luncheon as we introduce the brand to modern consumers at a premium event.”

Singer Jordin Sparks gave a moving tribute to her “Sparkle” co-star Whitney Houston during the inspirational luncheon which was sponsored by presenting sponsor Lincoln, as well as partner sponsors ING, L’Oréal Paris and Smartwater.

“Black women actors, writers, directors and producers still lack diverse opportunities in Hollywood and, unfortunately, are often overlooked during awards season,” commented Essence editor-in-chief Constance C.R. White.  “The Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon exists to provide a fitting tribute to the brilliant talent and accomplishments of African American trailblazers like Kerry, Pam, Paula, Octavia and Shonda and celebrate their collective work as an inspiration for generations to come.”   (Photos by Arnold Turner, Frank Micelotta & Picture Group)

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.

audrey j bernard