Whoopi Goldberg, Zendaya, Michaela Coel and Andra Day and Cynthia Erivo were honored at Essence's Black Women in Hollywood Awards 2021.
The magazine's annual awards ceremony aired virtually on Thursday night (04.22.21) and saw the five honourees share their stories of resiliency as Black women in Hollywood as part of this year's theme of 'Mastering Our Stories'.
Whoopi, 65, first thanked the publication for making it "a little bit easier and nicer" to be a Black women in Hollywood.
She said: "You've made it a little bit easier, a little bit nicer to move through all the mishegoss that is Hollywood.
"I've been a Black woman my whole life. To be a Black woman in the world is not always the easiest thing. Essence has always made it clear that we don't have to be anybody else's idea of a Black woman … Thank you for allowing me to be myself, even though it might have been a little strange sometimes."
British star Michaela, 33, was presented with the honor for her HBO series 'I May Destroy You' by founder of the MeToo movement, Tarana Burke.
The actress and writer used her own experience of sexual assault to tell the story of Arabella, who rebuilds her life after she is assaulted in London, in the acclaimed comedy-drama.
And she recalled arriving in Los Angeles to meet movie executives to pitch 'I May Destroy You' to them and being so jetlagged that she ended up falling asleep in a truck outside the offices.
Michaela also believes those she pitched to probably thought she was "unstable" because she didn't present them with a treatment or pilot for the show.
She shared: "When I look back at that meeting, I think the executives deemed me unstable.