Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry will open the Empowerment Experience Stage at the 2017 Essence Festival in New Orleans on Friday, June 30th which will kick off the Festival’s weekend slate of daytime programming at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.  

This will be the first time that Berry, who recently wrapped production of her latest filmKidnap, will appear at the Essence Festival. Berry joins speakers Ava DuVernay, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Iyanla Vanzant and Rev. Al Sharpton, as well as performers Diana Ross, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Chance the Rapper, Solange and many more at the annual event, which is recognized as the nation’s largest gathering of African-American women.

“Halle Berry’s impact as an artist is extraordinary and her story, both personally and professionally, is an inspiration to women across the globe,” said Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa De Luca. “We are delighted that Halle has agreed to share her journey and invite our passionate community of fans to join us for an exciting opening to the Festival’s daytime Empowerment Experience.”

The annual Essence Festival in New Orleans, presented by Coca-Cola, is one of the nation’s largest live events. Each year, the Festival draws, on average, 500,000 attendees from across the globe to its multi-day entertainment, empowerment and cultural event, which generates an economic impact of more than $200 million to the local economy. Now in its 23rd year, the Essence Festival has featured some of the biggest names in entertainment and the nation’s most influential speakers, authors and leaders, including Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Prince, Janet Jackson, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Kahn, Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Rev. Al Sharpton, Deepak Chopra, Steve Harvey, Ava DuVernay, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Magic Johnson, Iyanla Vanzant and many more.

Berry will star in the upcoming feature film Kidnap  scheduled to be released next month.  Her last feature release, The Call, earned a solid $51.8 million domestic and $68.5m worldwide from a $17m debut on a $13m budget for Sony in March 2013.  Although It has been quite some time since we have seen Berry consistently on the big screen; it appears that she will be gracing us with the resurgence of her on screen presence.  In addition to Kidnap, Berry is attached to star in Kings, directed by Turkish-French director Deniz Gamze Ergüven (Mustang).  Kings revolves around the 1992 riots that took place in South Central Los Angeles after a jury acquitted four LA police officers for the use of excessive force in the beating of Rodney King.  Berry will also star in Kingsman: The Golden Circle starring Julianne Moore and Channing Tatum, and is set to star in Adrian Lyne’s feature film, Silence alongside Michael Douglas.

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