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Exclusive: Essence’s ‘A Toast To Prime Time’ With Laverne Cox And Danai Gurira



Essence magazine celebrated their October issue on Thursday with a special soiree celebrating Black women on prime time television.

Some of Hollywood’s leading women have broken barriers and have led the way to what is now being called the golden era. From Kerry Washington to Laverne Cox, there has been a seismic shift in programming and the publication is acknowledging the women in their latest issue.

For the cover page, Cox, who is known for her role on Netflix’s original series, Orange is the New Black poses alongside the stunning Alfre Woodard (NBC’s State of Affairs), Nicole Beharie (FOX’s Sleepy Hollow) and Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead).

“There’s a cover of Essence magazine that I’m on that I still can’t believe it. It’s so weird. I just take these kind of moments in,” Cox told us while on the red carpet for the “A Toast To Prime Time” celebration.

Gurira also expressed her excitement with HipHollywood about the gorgeous cover. “It was such a beautiful experience,” she explained. “It was just us saying ‘we are going to feel each other out and just enjoy each other.'”

While on the red carpet, we also talked with some of the attendees about the New York Times article that called How To Get Away With Murder’s Viola Davis “less classically beautiful than Mrs. [Kerry] Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry.”

“I think we are always going to have people who don’t get it and don’t get it quick enough,” Danai said. “We always rise above it and that’s the beauty of it all. We rise above it, we keep striving and we keep doing amazing things.”

Essence Atkins, who recently officiated Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union’s wedding, also chimed in. “We need to stop waiting for other people to validate us. We need to start a movement amongst ourselves,” she said.

Be sure to pic up the latest issue on news stands now.


Exclusive: The Bullet Scars That Will Forever Haunt Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Son, Etienne Maurice



Sheryl Lee Ralph shared a graphic photo on Instagram earlier this week of her son, Etienne Maurice, laying in a hospital bed bandaged up from bullet wounds. The purpose of the image was to be yet another voice calling to end gun violence.

On Wednesday, students across the country walked out of class to protest against gun violence, something that hit home for Ralph four years ago. “This mother wants #gunreform now! #guncontrol now,” she wrote.

It was during a night out in West Philadelphia that Ralph’s then 22-year-old child was robbed at gunpoint and shot three times; twice in the leg and one which grazed his forehead.

So as Ralph joined Wednesday’s national conversation about gun laws, HipHollywood talked exclusively with Etienne who shared exactly what went down the night a gun could have taken his life for good.

“I was shot four years ago, November 9 … I was black out drunk. The next thing I know I remember I woke up in the hospital, doctor said I had two bullet holes in my leg and a grazed bullet hole above my eyebrow.”

Maurice, who was robbed for his iPhone and his wallet, went on to tell us that this is something that he is reminded of constantly. “Having been shot is something that I carry with me every day. I still have numbness at the bottom of my leg from the nerve damage.”

And while he will always remember how he felt knowing his life almost ended, Etienne had a hard time fathoming how his famous mother felt. “We had the conversation about it last week and she said she peed on herself,” he told us.

For Maurice, he’s proud to see young children use their voices to make change. “There’s so many angles where we can talk about gun violence and how it’s effecting different communities,” he said. “Gun reform needs to take place now.”

Since that night, he hasn’t picked up a drink and has been now sober for four years. As for the suspects, a father-son duo, they are behind bars for attempted man slaughter.

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