Issa Rae, Mara Brock Akil, Debbie Allen, Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernay
Essence Magazine

Essence editors pulled out all the stops when they chose some of the top black women in Hollywood for their Game Changers issue. Dressed all in white on the May cover are women making moves and proving that you can do things your way and still achieve your goals.

Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Debbie Allen, Mara Brock Akil and Issa Rae not only look amazing on the cover, but their stories of triumph in the cover story also prove that perseverance does pay off.

Each of these women has found a way to tell the stories of black women and have their voices heard. Rhimes, who currently reigns over ShondaLand, said that black women in the TV industry are far from a trend. "It's an economic fact. There are more people of color than ever before." she says. "When the shows start doing bigger numbers than what they think are going to be their top 10 shows, it becomes really hard to suggest that it's a trend."

Allen, a TV veteran, sees the emergence of black women as progress.

"I look at it as an opportunity. It is wide open and for the taking. When I first started, there were no women in the room, there were no black people in the room,” Allen said.


With DuVernay and Rae tackling complex issues of race in their work, you can only imagine the number of black women they inspire on a daily basis. To call these women on the cover of May's Essence "Game Changers" is definitely an understatement.