nullEarlier this month, African American woman-centered media brand Essence launched of a new film contest called The Essence Black Women In Hollywood Short Film Contest: Spotlight On Our Journeys.

Posing the question, “Are you ready to be the next top filmmaker?” the contest – touting a mission to create multidimensional and refreshing images of Black women, in contrast to commonplace narrow mainstream media depictions – officially opened it doors for entries on Friday, November 1, via its website at
The deadline for submissions is December 5, 2013 – less than 2 weeks from today. So you better get your entries in if you haven’t.
Also, the panel of judges, which already boasts Shonda Rhimes and Regina King, has been expanded to include: yours truly, Tambay A ObensonAva DuVernayDee ReesMara Brock and Salim AkilGina Prince Bythewood, Stephanie AllainAlynda Wheat (People magazine film critic), and Amber Rasberry, director of development at 34th Street Films.
The winning short will be honored, and screened in part, during the 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, which will be held on February 272014Past honorees at this Oscar-week event have included Oprah Winfrey, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Halle Berry, Shonda Rhimes, Suzanne de Passe, Cicely Tyson, Gabrielle Union and many others.
“At Essence, we understand how a powerful story, whether in print or in film, can impact lives and even impact an entire generation. This is especially true when there is a diversity of voices sharing their own unique stories about the human journey,” said Vanessa K. Bush, Editor-in-Chief, Essence. “That is why we are excited about the Essence Short Film Contest. Not only will it provide a platform to discover a fresh, new voice and vision, but showcasing the winner during our annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon will allow us to put a spotlight on burgeoning creative talent.” 
The winning film will also be featured on
To enter the contest, filmmakers are asked to write and direct an original short film, no longer than 20 minutes that “presents an image of a Black woman in a unique, refreshing way.

For full details on the contest, visit

I’m looking forward to helping select the winning film from what I hope will be the best of the best currently out there, so good luck to all!