On Wednesday evening, WEEN (Women In Entertainment Empowerment Network) celebrated their distinguished honorees at the organization’s 6th Annual WEEN Awards, held at ESPACE in New York City. The awards ceremony recognizes women who are leaders in entertainment, social justice and entrepreneurship. The theme of this year’s awards was #InSolidarity, and paid homage to community, racial and social justice leaders in plight to eradicate injustice, violence, and disparities in Black and Latino communities.
Radio personality, Angela Yee, hosted the evening, while WEEN co-founders, Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Sabrina Thompson, Kristi Henderson, and Lauren Lake welcomed the guests and highlighted relevant topical issues, as well as introduced past and present African-Americans who have played pivotal roles in society.
“I am reminded that nine years ago when we started this organization we said one thing, ‘Don’t judge me, empower me!’ So tonight it is not about judgment, it’s about celebrating the icons while they are living,” says WEEN CEO and Co-Founder, Valeisha Butterfield-Jones.
The presenters of the evening dedicated heartfelt speeches to each of the honorees. Entertainment Lawyer Londell McMillan told the audience a beautiful story about his “friend, little sister, and confidant” Lil’ Kim. Lil’ Kim accepted her WEEN Icon Award with a great amount of gratitude stating, “I have received many awards that I have been super excited about, but there’s something so special about receiving an award that a group of women got together to give you. That’s really special.”
In keeping with the spirit and #InSolidarity theme of the evening, honoree Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland, gave a powerful and moving speech that ignited hope, faith and activism. “…Our candidate lost the election, I lost a baby. This is not the time to pass out,” says Geneva Reed-Veal. “…For a lot of us, this was a not now moment, but it is a moment to wake up!”
Honoree and Editor of Teen Vogue, Elaine Welteroth gave words of encouragement during her acceptance speech stating, “What a time to be alive, to be Black, to be female, to be young, to be creative and to be empowered.”
The attendees left the awards feeling motivated, energized and encouraged.
DJ Olivia Dope provided the music for the pre-cocktail reception and throughout the program.
The 2016 WEEN honorees were:
Meagan Good (Actress) received the Women’s Empowerment Award presented by radio personality Midwin Charles.
Ethiopia Habtemariam (President of Motown Records) received the Music Maverick Award, presented by singer/songwriter Keri Hilson.
Lil’ Kim (Entertainer) received the WEEN Icon Award, presented by entertainment attorney Londell McMillan.
Geneva Reed-Veal (Mother of Sandra Bland) received the Social Justice Award, presented by WEEN Co-Founder Sabrina Thompson.
Yara Shahidi (Actress) received the TV and Film Empowerment Award, presented by blogger Necole Kane.
Dia Simms (President of Sean Combs Wines and Spirits) received the Corporate Leadership Award, presented by journalist and television personality Lola Ogunnaike.
Elaine Welteroth (Editor, Teen Vogue) received the Editorial Award, presented by style expert June Ambrose and Apple Music executive Bozoma Saint John.
With a completely sold out show, the WEEN Awards has been coined an evening of ‘glamour, philanthropy, and social justice.” Ticket proceeds from the show will support the continual expansion of the organization’s flagship program, The WEEN Academy; a six-week entertainment industry boot camp for young women ages 18-22. These programs are essential components of the WEEN platform. It provides a community that uplifts and produces opportunities for ambitious women who may one day be an honoree at the annual awards show.
Past esteemed honorees and participants have included: Vivica A. Fox, Gayle Soledad O’Brien, Angie Martinez, Kevin Liles, Nia Long, Estelle, Egypt Sherrod, Va$htie, Angela Yee, Sevyn Streeter, MC Lyte, Keri Hilson and Regina Hall, among others.