Essence has announced that Oprah Winfrey will attend Essence Fest 2016 for the first time in the 21-year history of the event that is recognized as the nation’s largest gathering of African-American women.  Winfrey will join an impressive list of speakers, including T.D. Jakes, Ava DuVernay, Rev. Al Sharpton, Misty Copeland, Tyra Banks, and more.

“Oprah’s message of inspiration is universal and, through her life’s work, she has influenced women and girls across the globe,” said Essence editor-in-chief Vanessa De Luca. “We are delighted that Iyanla Vanzant graciously invited Oprah to the Essence Festival as a special gift for the fans, so we are welcoming our passionate community to join us for an absolutely extraordinary experience not to be missed.” – Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa De Luca

This year’s festival has also attracted major studios such as Warner Bros., Fox, WGN and Starz who aim to boost audiences for series such as Empire, Underground and The Real.  Fox will be bringing cast members from Empire, Rosewood, and Scream Queens, to give fans an opportunity to “get up close and personal” with the actors.  The cast WGN’s Underground, will also be at the festival to discuss the show. Actors from Starz’s Power and Survivor’s Remorse will be making appearances as well.  Warner Bros. will present a live taping of The Real, the daytime talk show hosted by Loni Love, Tamera Mowry, Adrienne Bailon, and Jeannie Mai, and will also bring Ava DuVernay and Queen Sugar to the New Orleans audience.

Adding a show like Queen Sugar, which is filmed in New Orleans and is executive produced by Ava DuVernay, whose body of work strives to shine a light on stories untold was, of course, a natural fit for us, and we’re happy to present it at one of the summer’s biggest festivals.” – Lisa Gregorian, President and Chief Marketing Officer, Warner Bros Television

Queen Sugar was directed by visionary filmmaker Ava DuVernay alongside an all-female directorial team including many women of color who have made a great impact on the independent film community.  The series is an adaptation of Natalie Baszile’s novel of the same name and follows the story of a mother and daughter who inherit a sugarcane farm in Louisiana as they navigate the triumphs and struggles of their complicated lives to run this ailing sugarcane farm in the Deep South.  The cast includes, Rutina Wesley, Oprah Winfrey (Greenleaf), Dawn-Lyen Gardner (Unforgettable, Heroes), Kofi Siriboe (Awkward, Whiplash) and Omar J. Dorsey (Ray Donovan, Selma).

The Essence Music Festival  is an annual music festival that started in 1994 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence Magazine, and has become the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the United States.  For festival news, tickets, the app download, and the schedule please click HERE.




About The Author

Founder, HBR Media

K. Nicole Mills is the Founder of HBR Media. She transitioned from Wall Street to television and film development, and has worked at NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, and Showtime Networks. She currently develops digital programming for premium networks. Reach out anytime!

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