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Terry Pheto

The 10th Essence Women In Hollywood Gala Dinner took place last night at Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

The event that aims at celebrating Hollywood's Next Generation of black women, namely was a star-studded affair with names such as Viola Davis, Tracee Ellis Ross, Pharrell Williams and Angela Bassett and our very own local actress and producer Terry Pheto.

The Madiba series actress who was the only South African actress in attendance, was invited by the publication, and walked the red carpet clad in a garment by Self Portrait which she paired with shoes by Stuart Weitzman. And even got the chance to mingle and rub shoulders with Hollywood stars such as Kofi Siriobe, Meagan Good, legend Alfre Woodard and Oscar nominee Davis.

“I am truly honoured to have been part of the evening's festivities, a platform that validates that we as black women are worthy of being heard in our opinions and voices that we attain through our talents and stories we narrate. A platform that says, as black women, we too, are worthy of owning Hollywood,” said Pheto.

Since its inception in 2008, the awards have honoured many of Hollywood most cherished figures including Oprah Winfrey, Lupita Nyong'o, Ava DuVernay, Halle Berry, Davis, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Bassett, Queen Latifah, Naomie Harris, Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Jennifer Hudson and more.

Hosted by Being Mary Jane star Gabrielle Union, last night's event saw singer and actress Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures, Moonlight) take the Breakthrough Award; writer/executive producer Issa Rae (Insecure) received the Vanguard Award; standout actress Aja Naomi King (How to Get Away with Murder) receives the Lincoln Shining Star Award; and dynamic actress Yara Shahidi (Black-ish) receives the Generation Next Award.

Aja Naomi King, Yara Shahidi, Janelle Monae and Issa Rae

“When I got into the music industry, there were not a lot of African-American girls wearing tuxedos [and] rocking natural hair on a mainstream level,” Janelle Monae told a group of Black students at Harvard University. “I was not status quo, and I can relate to the students here who come, and they may be the minority.”

Kofi Siriobe and Common

Viola Davis

Angela Bassett

MC Lyte

Angela Simmons and rapper Common

And it was clearly a memorable night for Ayanda film producer actress who said being “in that room was magical, as I got to meet my idols and peers in the industry”.

“It was humbling to have some of the big names recognizing me, thanks to the BET Madiba series billboard on Hollywood Boulevard and my movie A United Kingdom currently screening in the US.

“To have someone like Viola recognize and express the importance of telling and taking the South African story to the world, was a treasured moment. An icon, Alfre, still remembering my work from Tsotsi and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, was affirmation for me that I am, on the right path. The room was sprinkled with black girl magic. Women in support in each others' growth and upliftment,” said Pheto.

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