Lupita, Shonda and the 2015 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon
My favorite event of the year is the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. I’ve gone three out of the last four years and there is no other space that feels as supportive, inspiring and epic as this one. There’s something incredibly special about how accessible the celebrities who come to it are. Everyone is like 5 tables away, including Oprah. Read my recap of the 2014 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon.
This year, though??? Listen. I’m still not fully recovered from all the amazingness that happened.
I had a spot on the red carpet right between ESSENCE’s platform for interviews and the LA Sentinel. As celebrities walked the red carpet, they stopped and chatted. I met some and reconnected with some. I took selfies with Margaret Avery, Lorraine Toussaint, Regina King, Mara Brock Akil, Tika Sumpter, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Teyonah Parris, Ava DuVernay… so many!
I also took videos as I interviewed some of them. Regina King, who has always been one of my sheroes because of the versatility of her career and the fact that she is PLAIN hilarious gave me a great byte when I asked her what she will say to people who say women aren’t funny.
YES. MA’AM. “Check the resume” indeed. How can you not love her? Also, she was an honoree at this year’s luncheon. Regina comes with ALL the receipts you need!
And then when the event started, the real magic did too. There is no way you can be amongst such awesomeness and not be in awe yourself the entire time. The opening presentation was by Oprah Winfrey, Carmen Ejogo, and Aja Naomi King.
Lupita Nyong’o presented the Vanguard Award to the cast of Orange is the New Black (Adrienne C. Moore, Danielle Brooks, Laverne Cox, Lorraine Toussaint, Samira Wiley, Uzo Aduba, and Vicky Jeudy).
I met and spoke with my Naija sisthren, Uzo, after they got their award. She’s just as gracious as you’d imagine. I am so rooting for her!
Mara Brock Akil gave Regina King the Fierce & Fearless Award. David Oyelowo (and his adorable daughter) were on stage to give the Lincoln Breakthrough of the Year Award to actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Ava DuVernay presented the Visionary Award to costume designer Ruth E. Carter. And Common and John Legend performed their (now Academy Award-winning song) Glory.
AGAIN, this event was full of win. FULL OF IT.
But let’s talk about the two things that happened that REALLY had me losing my mind.
I met Lupita Nyong’o and she knew who I was!!!
During the luncheon, I saw Lupita standing unbothered and I went over. This is what happened.
*strolls over* *waits til she turns my way*
Me: Hi, Lupita. My name is Luvvie and I’m a huge fan!
Lupita: *shakes my hand* “Oh Luvvie! Nice to meet you and nice to put a face to the words! I read your letter to me last year AND I shared it. It was so nice.”
Me: *dying on the inside* OMG WOW.
Lupita: “Yes!” *turns to the person next to her* “She’s a blogger who has written some nice things about me.”
Me: *dies some more*
Then David Oyelowo stops in front of us and they start talking and they’re having a moment. They were talking about Americanah and at this point, I WAS GAGGINNGGGGG. You know I was tempted to be all “Hey you guise. I totally wanna work on that movie, even if it’s to grab coffee because Ifemelu is basically me.” But I didn’t. I just watched their exchanged wondering if my life was real.
When David walked away, I told Lupita that her cursive is amazing and she laughed and was surprised I even knew about the letter she wrote. Then I asked “Can we take a selfie?” She said “SURE!” And we took a selfie but it was too dark. She goes: “Oh no. We need flash.” BECAUSE: CHOCOLATE. Someone on her team takes my phone and we snap the best picture EVER AND I LIVE AND DIE AND LIVE AGAIN!!!
I thank her and walk away going “OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG” and a couple of people saw our exchange and had their mouths on the floor.
LUPITA NYONG’O KNEW WHO I WASSSS!!!!! JESUS IS LORD!
So I was already floating and getting my life. Then I realized that Shonda Rhimes was in the building. I tweeted that I was going to find her. Because otherwise, Gladiators were going to be totally disappointed in me. When the luncheon ended, I went straight to her table (which she shared with Oprah). I was 7 feet from Mother O but Shonda was who I needed to talk to that day.
Me and Shonda Rhimes really do go together!
People are greeting Shonda left and right so I just wait patiently. Another celebrity even stood by me, waiting for their turn to talk to her. They swooped in, telling her how excited they were to one day work for her. Then when that lady left, I introduced myself.
Me: “Hi, I’m Luvvie. I think you’re amazing.”
Shonda: “Hey Luvvie!”
*someone interrupts us to say hey to Shonda. When they leave, she turns back to me*
Shonda: “Wait. Luvvie. ARE YOU AWESOMELY LUVVIE!”
Me: “Yes I am.”
Shonda: “OMG I LOVE YOU!!!” *gives me a huge hug that was the best thing ever* “I LOVE YOUR TWEETS! You’re so funny!”
Me: “OMG You know who I am!”
Shonda: “OF COURSE!” *steps back* “I’m kinda starstruck.”
Me: *dying on the inside* NO YOU ARE NOT! I AM! I love you. Can we take a selfie??
Shonda: YES! *comes behind me and puts her head on my shoulder*
And then we take 2 selfies and hug again and I tell her I love her some more.
WE. HAD. A. MOMENT. Like WUT? Shonda told ME she was kinda starstruck. I don’t even understand! And I wanted to cry because WHAT IS LIFE?!? What is my life? I stepped into a room with the most powerful women who I’ve admired for so long. And some knew who I was! Y’all. I could not believe it myself.
And then Shonda went and sealed our boo-ship with this tweet:
Yup. I’m officially a stan. Like BeyHive level of love for Miss Rhimes. BET NOBODY SAY NOTHING BAD BOUT SHONDA!
It’s been over a week since this event and I’m still having random in moments where I go “EEEEEEEEEEEE!” Catching the vapors because who’da thunk it? WHO? I was affirmed that people are paying attention to what I’m doing. It was like the universe gave me dap and the next time someone asks me what has been a highlight of my career, I’ll say “the time I met Lupita and Shonda and they knew my work.”
Shoutout to my Glam Squad for getting me TOGETHER for the event. My girl Felicia Leatherwood (@LovingYourHair) gets my hair to right everytime and Niehla Ollie (@NiehlaO) snatched my faceeeee into life.
Thank you to Essence for creating the space for bold, brilliant and beautiful Black women to love on each other and celebrate each other. And thank you God for the gifts that got me into that room.
A video posted by Awesomely Luvvie (@luvvie) on