The cloudy skies and crisp air hoving around Los Angeles were a blatant indication that a new time is brewing in Hollywood. On the heels of #OscarsSoWhite, and the watershed year that has birthed the Time’s Up movement and reinvigorated Tamara Burke’s #MeToo movement — Black women continue to be ahead of the curve. During Oscar’s weekend, various parties and events were happening all over LA, but executive producer and media maven Koshie Mills’ International Women Of Power Event presented by The Diaspora Dialogues was a celebration of women of the African diaspora who are often looked over during awards season.
A lush event hosted by Destiny’s Child alum Michelle Williams and held at the Marriott in Marina Del Rey, celebrities, activists and attendees gathered to celebrate several powerful women who have impacted those in the diaspora on a global scale. Mills who owns the consulting and public relations firm K3PR wanted to honor women in Entertainment, Business, Beauty, Music, and Fashion.
“I wanted to create a culturally enriched authentic experience with a female aesthetic, where a mosaic of women from the continent and the diaspora can converge, bond, share, uplift, empower and embrace each other’s diverse experiences in one room,” Mills reflected. “This is an opportunity for everyone looking at Africa and its Diaspora to see how African women are not only beautiful, regal, intelligent, powerful, resourceful and resilient; we are owning our own narrative and reclaiming our Queendom for the world to see.”
Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, Uber’s Chief Brand Officer Bozoma Saint John, Supermodel Duckie Thot, Singer Estelle and Fashion Bomb Daily Founder and Editor-in-chief Claire Sulmers have all shifted perspectives in their various industries. These women have carved out a space for themselves, and for generations of women coming behind them. In many cases, they brought folding chairs to their preverbal industry tables, when no one wanted to make room for them.
An event which encompassed dancing, laughing, singing, hugging and even a few joyful tears, Shadow and Act, was present to chat with some of the attendees and honorees about the spirit of the luncheon and why events like this are particularly important in the midst of awards season and Women’s History Month.
For ROAR “Sankofa” award honoree Sheryl Lee Ralph who will be seen on the next season of TNT’s Claws, the International Women Of Power Luncheon was a time for reflection. “It’s interesting,” she said thoughtfully. “I am now celebrating forty-years in the entertainment industry. The very first call I got, I was 19. Now, I look back and it’s been an amazing journey. Someone asked me earlier, what it is like to have made it in the industry, but for me, it’s about having made it in life. The industry only gave me a platform to deliver a message. The rest of it is about being in service to my home, to my family, my community, and my people. The rest of it is just a living. The rest is just life.”
After a stunning performance from Music Icon “Nyansapo” honoree Estelle, The President of Ghana’s Diaspora Office director, Nadia Musah highlighted Mills’ tireless work to bridge the gap between Africa and the diaspora. It became quite clear that the luncheon was not just an event to spotlight women working on the scene, but also to honor those who work diligently every day to push us forward as a people.
“Black women have pushed this whole country along since 1619; they birthed the whole continent now called Africa, that is historically accurate,” actor Isaiah Washington expressed. “Black women and women of color have been pushing people like myself to the forefront for a very long time. Ava DuVernay is making some series dents in those doors, Shonda Rhimes has kicked down many doors, Ruth Carter; and countless others.”
An empowering event about the strength of Black womanhood and all of its glory, The Diaspora Dialogues’ International Women Of Power Luncheon was a much-needed celebration during a time when our voices and sistership are needed more than ever.
Aramide A Tinubu is a film critic and entertainment writer. As a journalist, her work has been published in EBONY, JET, ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her Master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami