2018 Essence Festival Presented By Coca-Cola – Ernest N. Morial Convention Center – Day 1
NEW ORLEANS, LA – JULY 06: (L-R) Angela Rye, Mary J. Blige, Maxine Waters, Alencia Johnson, Queen Latifah and Remy Ma speak onstage during the 2018 Essence Festival presented by Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 6, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence)
By Deanna Laster and Kalyn Prothro
The 2018 Essence Festival was nothing less than amazing in honoring black women. The squad goals of ladies from across the country and abroad were well represented in their laughter, attire, togetherness and crowns. Daytime festival activities at the NOLA Convention Center included celebrity appearances, empowerment sessions, movie screenings, fitness workouts, fashion and beauty booths, giveaways and more.
Celebrities like Mary J. Blige and Simone Smith embraced their sisterhood at the Convention Center by debuting the launch of their chunky earring collection. During our interview, Simone shared that she has always loved chunky earrings and often received compliments from others, mainly her long-time friend Mary J. After contemplating on how this initiative could be a further reflection of their sisterhood, amongst themselves and other ladies, they decided to title their earring collection Sister Love with quality yet affordable hoop earrings. Check them out online at simoneismith.com.
In light of the continuation of the New Edition Story, we were able to catch up with the cast of the Bobby Brown Story. Cast members Woody McClain and Gabrielle Dennis shared their views on the importance of portraying the lives of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston as real people. Gabrielle continued to share that she personally studied the life of Whitney Houston beyond other portrayals of her to ensure she presented Whitney authentically and Bobby indeed confirmed he felt that “Whitney was on the set” with the energy Gabrielle gave to her role.
Evening concerts at the Superdome were nothing less than superb with collaborations from Jill Scott, Erika Badu and The Roots on Friday then Mary J on Saturday. Essence would not have been complete without experiencing Janet Jackson concluding the festival on Sunday by kicking off her State of the World Tour. Janet did not disappoint with her hi-energy dancing and performance of a selection of fan favorite songs. Her message in support of racial equality and justice was clear throughout her performance. To keep it personal, Janet emotionally acknowledged her difficulty in dealing with the recent passing of her father and the decision to continue her tour. She stated that “he would want her to finish what she started” and she did just that.
Essence experienced a record-breaking attendance this year and we were so glad to be a part of it. We look forward to next year and can’t wait to see how they raise the bar to celebrate black sisterhood.