Arts & Culture

These Stunning ESSENCE Portraits Highlight Inspirational Black Women In Hollywood

From Ava DuVernay to Jenifer Lewis, these vibrant photographs capture Hollywood's women of color who are creating change through their art and activism.


During ESSENCE’s annual Black Women in Hollywood event, photographer Michael Rowe captured stunning portraits of powerful and inspiring Black women who are making history today, including Ava DuVernay, Dewanda Wise, Angela Bassett, Jenifer Lewis, and more.

With “The Power of Our Presence: Art & Activism” being the event’s theme this year, portraits were taken of women who have continued to create change through the versatile medium of art.

Set among a beautiful ethnic backdrop that was created by Harlem-based artist Makeba “KEEBS” Rainey, these striking photographs feature a multitude of Black women in Hollywood who are thriving. Check out a few of the dazzling photos below, and visit ESSENCE to view the entire collection. 


Yaya DaCosta

Actress and model




Michele Weaver

Actress – “Love Is”




Sheryl Lee Ralph

Actress, singer, activist, and author




Robin Thede

Actress, writer, and comedian




Kiki Layne

Actress – “If Beale Street Could Talk”




DeWanda Wise

Actress – “She’s Gotta Have It”




Jenifer Lewis

Actress, singer, and activist




Ava DuVernay

Director, producer, and screenwriter




Ayanna Nicole

Hi! I’m Ayanna, a writer and artist. Although I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with two degrees in art and psychology, I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. By following my dreams and utilizing my creativity, I designed Jaro Magazine with the ultimate intention of bringing more positive stories in the black community to the forefront, while also highlighting our versatile and vibrant culture through Jaro’s four modes: film, books, art, and music. I also manage a book hub, which you can find on Instagram @bloomingliterature.

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