Day three of the ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola® continued to serve attendees with unforgettable daytime experiences with appearances from the first Black woman Vice President Kamala Harris at the Global Black Economic Forum HQ in a candid “Chief to Chief” conversation with ESSENCE Ventures President and CEO Caroline Wanga. One of the greatest athletes of all-time, an entrepreneur and style icon Serena Williams made her debut during the history of the ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola® during BEAUTYCON™: @ESSENCEFEST Edition and inaugural ESSENCE Black Women in Business Dinner.

Vice President Kamala Harris held a candid “Chief to Chief” conversation with ESSENCE President and CEO Caroline Wanga at the GBEF® HQ Experience stage. For 50 years, ESSENCE has taught Black women how to unleash their power shared by Wagna. With less than 122 days left before the election for the next Presidential administration in the United States, Harris urged attendees of the ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola® to enter rooms with their shoulders back and chin up.

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center was filled with an indescribable joy that festival-goers could experience as day three continued with a full spectrum of unmatched daytime experiences. Highlights include:

  • A full day of panels at the ESSENCE Stage, including:

o    Actress Emayatzy Corinealdi and actors Morris Chestnut and McKinley Freeman provided fans with a behind-the-scenes look at Season 2 of the Hulu series Reasonable Doubt during a fireside chat.

o    Actor Aldis Hodge delved into the mind of Detective Cross and shares how his version of the popular character encapsulates brotherhood, family, and Black love. 

o    Producer Carlos King kept it real(ity) with some of the biggest names in Black Reality TV, the pioneer of bounce Big Freedia, entrepreneur Yandy Smith-Harris,  entrepreneur and TV personality Toya Johnson-Rushing.

o    Mothers of two of the biggest superstars in NBA history, Sonya Curry and Lucille O’Neal, alongside Michelle L. Rice, President of TV One and CLEO TV engaged in a candid conversation around nurturing the talent and minds of children destined for greatness.

  • One of the greatest athletes of all-time, an entrepreneur and style icon Serena Williams made an appearance during BEAUTYCON™: @ESSENCEFEST Edition in a conversion on channeling her passions into a profitable business model on and off the courts.
  • New Orleans rapper Treety, singer and songwriter 4Batz and the “City Cinderella,” Miami-bred chart-topping femcee JT gave performances at the ESSENCE® GU® Kickback, hosted by actress and entrepreneur Skai Jackson and content creator Raymonte.
  • Legendary actress and producer Sanaa Lathan, award-winning actor Morris Chestnut, trailblazing author, writer and thought leader dream hampton, actress Meagan Good brought Black Hollywood to New Orleans during a candid conversation at ESSENCE Film Festival® by ESSENCE STUDIOS™.
  • Actor Lance Gross and TV personality, host, and actor Terrance J. explored how their education at a HBCU influenced their successful Hollywood careers at the Suede: Men’s Experience™ (formerly known as In His Zone).
  • The ESSENCE Authors™ experience on Saturday, July 6th, featured an impressive lineup of authors and literary voices. Notable participants included politician Bakari Sellers, romance pioneers of romance novels Beverly Jenkins, Brenda Jackson, and Donna Hill – showcasing a diverse range of topics and genres, highlighting the richness of contemporary literature and the importance of storytelling in shaping culture and understanding.
  • The NEW VOICES ENTREPRENEUR HUB™ offered practical workshops, mentorship sessions, and networking opportunities,  and featured a vibrant celebration of Black entrepreneurship. Attendees engaged in insightful discussions with renowned founders and business leaders, including fashion icon Tracy Reese, and technology expert Iddris Sandu. The day’s programming culminated in a captivating keynote address by branding expert Mellody Hobson, who shared invaluable lessons on building successful businesses.

This inaugural ESSENCE Black Women in Business Dinner brought together an exclusive group of Black women across making strides across varying industries and fields for a private ceremony at the Four Seasons New Orleans honoring Serena Williams (Investor of the Year Award), Thasunda Brown Duckett (CEO of the Year Award), Esi Eggleston Bracey (Transformer of the Year Award), and Laysha Ward (Community Investment Pioneer Award). As the leading global brand for Black women, ESSENCE launched “Black Women in…” as a series of events to highlight the achievements of Black Women pioneers to applaud the monumental successes and contributions they continue to make. Given the challenges Black women in business face, we are thrilled to continue our tradition of celebrating our own by hosting an exclusive ceremony that will bring together notable women across industries and fields, ESSENCE senior executives, stakeholders, partners, and major media outlets.  Notable attendees include  activist Reverend Al Sharpton, businesswoman Valeisha Butterfeild, entrepreneurs Derek Hayes, and Pinky Cole. The 2024 ESSENCE Black Women in Business Dinner was hosted by Rashida Jones and sponsored by Entergy, Diageo, and Visa.

During nighttime performances, Grammy-award winning singer USHER gave a special one-night only performance of his generation defining album Confessions in its entirety. Legendary R&B singer and 8x ESSENCE Festival performer, Charlie Wilson, returned to the stage for the 8th time in the history of the ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola®, alongside performances from one of the best DJs of the culture D-Nice in a special presentation of his global sensation, Club Quarantine Live, featuring icons of hip hop, latin jazz funk, R&B and soca including Method Man, Sheila E, Big Boi, Donell Jones, Tweet, Machel Montano and Lloyd and the highly anticipated reunion of R&B supergroup, TGT (Tyrese, Ginuwine & Tank).