• Darron Wheeler


(New York, NY) June 18, 2018—The ESSENCE Festival® is pleased to announce that Emmy Award-winning writer/producer/actor Lena Waithe will give a keynote conversation during the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience on Friday, July 6th, during the 2018 ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans, LA.

The Chicago-born Waithe has been heralded for her stellar work over the years, including most recently creating and executive producing the critically acclaimed SHOWTIME series, The Chi. She made history last year as the first woman of color to win an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series” for her work on the Netflix hit Master of None. During this year’s Oscar season, she was also honored with the 2018 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood award. During the event, her powerful speech about being true to herself regarding her sexuality—and the importance of speaking one’s own truth—went viral.

Free and open to the public, the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience Stage will present inspiring experiences and thought-provoking conversations—featuring the nation’s leading voices from the spheres of entertainment, politics, community and more. Themes and topics that will be brought to the forefront will focus on the triumphs and challenges affecting Black women and the African-American community today.

For more on the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience, the Festival’s full line up, as well as ticket information, please visit:

Join the Festival community by following us on Twitter, @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of 2018 ESSENCE Festival® on Facebook. For more information about ticket sales and accommodations and for the latest news about the ESSENCE Festival®, visit

The ESSENCE Festival® is executive produced by ESSENCE Festivals LLC, a division of ESSENCE Communications Inc., and is produced by Solomon Group. Empowerment Experience is executive produced by GeChar. Sponsors of the 2018 ESSENCE Festival® in New Orleans include presenting sponsor Coca-Cola and major sponsors AT&T, Ford, McDonald’s, State Farm and Walmart.

About Essence Communications Inc.

Essence Communications is the number one media company dedicated to Black women and inspires a global audience of more than 15 million through diverse storytelling and immersive original content. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, experiential and online, ESSENCE encompasses its signature magazine; digital, video and social platforms; television specials; books; as well as live events, including Black Women in Music, Black Women in Hollywood, Street Style and the ESSENCE Festival. Essence Communications is owned by Essence Ventures, an independent African-American owned company focused on merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of women of color.

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