storytellers
[L to R] Oscar nominees Joi McMillon, Raoul Peck & Kimberly Steward

Black Hollywood showed up and out at the EBONY & iTunes movies Celebrating the Storytellers party Thursday night in Hollywood.

Some of entertainment’s brightest stars like Deon Cole, Lakeith Stanfield, Yvonne Orji, and Omar J. Dorsey, rubbed shoulders with executives from Ebony Media and iTunes movies to honor three Oscar-nominated filmmakers—I Am Not Your Negro director Raoul Peck, Moonlight editor Joi McMillion, and Manchester by the Sea producer Kimberly Steward.

“From August Wilson’s searing portrayal of family in Fences to Barry Jenkins bringing us the moving story of love and self-acceptance in Moonlight, it’s clear that we need to be behind, not just in front of, the camera to make certain the richness and depth of the African-American experience reaches the masses,” Linda Johnson Rice, Ebony Media Chairman Emeritus, said.

EBONY Editor-in-Chief Kyra Kyles echoed Johnson Rice’s sentiment.



“It is always critical to see our skinfolk on the big screen, but just as it’s key to have us behind the scenes as directors, producers, cinematographers and writers. EBONY celebrates the power behind the throne and it was amazing to honor Raoul Peck, Kimberly Steward, and Joi McMillon.”

While many are focused on the upcoming Oscar ceremony, Peck, who’s one of the front-runners in the Best Documentary category, said honoring our own filmmakers is just as important as being recognized by the Academy.

“It’s essential that we know our own history. We are able to build our own legacy and preserve who we are,” the Haitian director said. “We need to respect the work of our artists, of our writers, of our intellectuals, our leaders, and that’s part of what constitutes a culture.”

Stanfield, who currently stars on the Golden Globe winning FX series Atlanta, agreed.

“We’ve always had to pick ourselves up and move forward, but that’s what we do best,” he said when speaking of honoring ourselves instead of seeking validation by others. “I’m always supporting any Black movement and anything that’s uplifting that allows us to speak out and use our voices.”

Black glitterati partied hard, thanks to DJ D-nice who kept everyone dancing with an eclectic mix of classic hip-hop, current hits, and throwback jams. Celebs like Kofi Siriboe, MC Lyte, Larenz Tate, Sherri Shepherd, Nicci Gilbert, Lil Rel Howery, Bevy Smith, LeToya Luckett, AJ Johnson, Luvvie Ajayi, and the cast of BET’s New Edition Story hit the dance floor with Justina Omokhua, Global Head of Content & Lifestyle Strategy at Apple Music; Bozoma Saint John, Global Head of Consumer Marketing at iTunes; Michael Gibson, Ebony Media Chairman; and Willard Jackson, Ebony Media’s Vice Chairma; and Ebony Media’s CEO, Cheryl Mayberry-McKissack.

As we await Sunday night’s Academy Awards show, Kyles told the packed crowd she has one wish for the ceremony: “We’re looking forward to #OscarsSoWhite being #OscarsSoBlack this year.”



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