ESSENCE will be celebrating the cinematic achievements of those in Hollywood this year, at the 17thannual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awardson Thursday, March 7th, at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures hosted byMETHOD MAN.
- Academy Award-nominated actress & Grammy Award winner,Danielle Brooks
- Six-time Grammy-nominated singer and leading actress Halle Bailey
- Industry powerhouse and President of Original Programming for STARZ, Kathryn Busby
- Acclaimed screenwriter and showrunner of All American, All American: Homecoming and Found, Nkechi Okoro Carroll
Danielle Brooks is an Award-winning actress and singer whose immense talent and dedication to her craft continues to pave a way for diversity and inclusion on stage and on screen.
She currently stars in THE COLOR PURPLE, the Warner Bros. feature film adaption of the distinguished Broadway musical, directed by Blitz Bazawule and produced by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg. Brooks reprises her iconic role of ‘Sofia’, portraying another powerhouse, memorable performance that has garnered her Golden Globe, Critics Choice Award, SAG Award, BAFTA Film Award, and Academy Award nominations for “Best Supporting Actress”.
Brooks first played Sofia when she made her Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning revival of THE COLOR PURPLE musical, for which she earned a Tony Award nomination, a Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award. She also received a Grammy Award and a Theatre World Award for “Significant Broadway Debut.”
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Most recently, Brooks starred in August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play THE PIANO LESSON opposite Samuel L. Jackson and John David Washington and directed by LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For her performance, she earned nominations for a Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle Award. She also recently starred in James Gunn’s HBO Max and DC spinoff television series PEACEMAKER alongside John Cena, Viola Davis, and a hilarious ensemble cast.
Brooks rose to prominence for her portrayal of “Taystee” on the popular Netflix series ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER included Brooks’ season 7 performance in their list of ‘The Best TV Performances of 2019’. Additionally, Brooks was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Best Actress in a Comedy Series” as well as a Satellite Award for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture made for Television.” Furthermore, Brooks was the recipient of the Young Hollywood Award for “Breakthrough Actress”, nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series”, and received the Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series” three years in a row.
Additional theater credits include starring as “Beatrice” in The Public Shakespeare in the Park production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, directed by Kenny Leon. For her performance, she received the AUDELCO Award for “Lead Actress in a Musical,” the ANTONYO Award for “Best Actor in a Play, Off-Broadway,” and a Drama League Award nomination for “Distinguished Performance.”
Brooks also has impressive endeavors outside of acting. In 2019, she released her four-track EP entitled FOUR. She co-wrote the four songs, including “Seasons,” which was featured in the series finale of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. In 2022, she co-founded “Black Women on Broadway” and held its inaugural awards, which honors the legacy of Black Women’s contributions to theatre. Also in 2022, Brooks released a capsule collection with 11 Honoré. Previously, Brooks was one of the faces of Lane Bryant’s “I’m No Angel” Campaign alongside Ashley Graham and released a clothing line with Universal Standard. Brooks was also the face of Christian Siriano’s debut Spring capsule collection for Lane Bryant and was the face of Lane Bryant’s Fall Campaign that year.
Brooks grew up in South Carolina and is a graduate of The Juilliard School.
Halle Bailey is a force of nature. As one-half of the five-time Grammy-nominated Chloe x Halle,
her writing and vocal contributions helped propel the group to be one of the most beloved and
critically acclaimed artists in recent history. Fresh off their highly anticipated sophomore album
the Ungodly Hour, Halle was cast in the live action remake of the Disney classic film The Little
Mermaid. Halle Bailey will play the beloved character of Ariel. Upon this announcement, young
women of color all over the world were inspired.
The second release from Chloe x Halle’s latest album Ungodly Hour, “Do It” was an instant fan-
favorite complete with its own viral moment. The album was lauded by critics and fans alike and
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Chloe x Halle owned the summer with their many viral television performances from their
backyard tennis court during quarantine and from having landed on the covers of countless
magazines showcasing their iconic style and giving fans an inside glimpse into their whirlwind
story. But that story wasn’t one of overnight success. Their public journey started fourteen years
ago after performing the Beyoncé classic “Best Thing I Never Had” on YouTube which led to
two appearances on the Ellen DeGeneres Show after having gone viral. Then six years ago the
group caught the attention of Beyoncé and was immediately signed to her Parkwood
Their debut EP, Sugar Symphony, was released in April 2016. Later in 2016, they made cameo
appearances in Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual album. They later served as Beyoncé’s opening act
for the European leg of “The Formation World Tour.” In the spring of 2017, Chloe x Halle
released their self- described, “This is not an album” and “not really a mixtape” critically
acclaimed project, The Two of Us, which featured brand new music written and produced by the
duo. The project was featured on Rolling Stones’ Best R&B Albums of 2017 list.
Later in 2017, Chloe x Halle released the theme song for the hit television show Grown-ish (the Black-ish spin-
off) entitled “Grown”. The sisters are also co-starring in the show as sisters Sky and Jazz Forster.
In March 2018, the duo released their self-produced and self-written debut album, The Kids Are
Alright. In May 2018,
Chloe x Halle joined the U.S. leg of JAY-Z and Beyoncé’s “On the Run II Tour,” alongside DJ
Khaled. The critically lauded Grammy-nominated Chloe x Halle have performed on countless
national television networks including opening the Super Bowl with a stunning rendition of
“America The Beautiful” among countless other quintessential moments in television history.
Halle Bailey, although already quite the accomplished singer, performer, actor, and musician, is
on a path that leads this young woman to live forever among the most iconic stars in history. In
fact, earlier this year, Oprah Winfrey announced that Halle Bailey would join the cast of The
Color Purple musical film that will bring to the big screen the Broadway show based on Alice
Walker’s book. With global massive success of The Little Mermaid and The Color Purple on the
horizon Halle Bailey landed on the cover of Variety Magazine for The Young Hollywood issue.
Halle released her debut single “Angel” this summer. Produced by GRAMMY® Award-winning
producer, songwriter, and composer Theron “NeffU” Feemster (Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber,
Ne-Yo), the track weaves a cinematic soundscape with a R&B groove punctuated by orchestral
arrangements. The song quickly became an anthem on all social media platforms.
Kathryn Busby is President of Original Programming for STARZ. Based in the company’s Santa Monica office, Busby is responsible for leading the programming and development team for the global premium streaming platform and delivering on its programming mandate committed to narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences.
Prior to joining STARZ, Busby was Executive Vice President of Sony’s TriStar Television where she developed and oversaw premium projects that featured diverse, authentic characters and that championed underrepresented voices. Some of her noteworthy projects include The After Party, starring Tiffany Haddish and Sam Richardson from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, a Malcolm X series based on the novels X: A Novel and The Awakening of Malcolm X from his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz and a series based on Kirstin Chen’s crime novel Counterfeit.
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Busby previously served as Senior Vice President, Development for Sony Pictures Networks where she developed and produced numerous projects including “Absentia” – the critically acclaimed series that aired on Amazon for three seasons.
Before her role at Sony Pictures Networks, Busby served as Vice President, Original Programming for TBS where she shepherded original content. There, she partnered with Franklin Leonard, creator of “The Blacklist,” to create a joint initiative to identify diverse new writing talent for blind script deals and staffing consideration.
Busby was Senior Vice President, Production for New Line Cinema where she was an executive producer on the film Sex and the City. Prior to that, she held the role of Senior Vice President and Head of Development for The Carsey-Werner Company where she oversaw the development of “Grounded for Life” and “The Tracy Morgan Show.” She also worked on “3rd Rock from The Sun” and “That 70’s Show.”
She started her television career as Director, Comedy Development for Universal Television.
With over 25 years of television experience, Busby is also an award-winning screenwriter, director and producer. She directed the short film Max and Josh which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. In 2005, her debut film My Purple Fur Coat won Best Children’s Short at the Houston Black Film Festival.
She is Chair of BAFTA’s North American board that strengthens the British arts charity’s global mission to inspire, support and celebrate across film, games and television. Busby created a special BAFTA Masterclass for underprivileged students featuring industry leaders, and serves on the BAFTA Steering Group, whose initiatives resulted in the most diverse BAFTA nominations and wins in its history.
She also sits on the Board of Directors of PACE (Philanthropy and Community Engagement) and the Sony Pictures Action Council, which implements the studio’s racial equity and inclusion initiatives. In 2021, she was honored with an I Have Dream award.
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Busby is a graduate of Harvard University where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in visual and entertainment studies.
Nkechi Okoro Carroll is the founder of Rock My Soul Productions and is the creator/executive producer of the Warner Bros. Television (WBTV) drama series Found, which debuted earlier this Fall on NBC. The series was recently renewed for a second season. She is also the executive producer/showrunner of the WBTV dramas All American and All American: Homecoming, which rank as The CW’s #1 and #2 series among key demographics of Adults 18–34 and Adults 18–49.
In 2018, she signed an exclusive, multiyear overall deal with WBTV to develop new original television series for the Studio, a pact that was renewed in 2021. Before joining WBTV and All American, Okoro Carroll served as co-executive producer on the FOX drama series The Resident and Rosewood. Her prior credits include Bones and The Finder.
Born in New York and raised in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and England, Okoro Carroll earned a B.A. in Economics and French from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated with honors. She also holds an M.A. in Economics from New York University.
Prior to her TV writing career, Okoro Carroll worked for the Federal Reserve, where her responsibilities included managing the reserve position for the U.S. banking system and analyzing the impact of monetary policy decisions on the domestic money markets. All of which she did while still writing and producing plays in New York.
She currently resides in Los Angeles.