Essence Festival weekend certainly belonged to Oprah Winfrey and her OWN network as it's new series 'Queen Sugar' took over with a star-studded screening, reception, as well as a Q&A moderated by Essence's entertainment director Cori Murray, on the festival's main stage. This was the Queen of all media's first time at the Essence Festival, during it's 22 year history.
The Q&A featured the cast of the show as well as the creator, 'Selma' director, Ava DuVernay. Winfrey & DuVernay teamed up once again to bring the new drama to the network. Winfrey also delivered an inspiring keynote speech at the convention center, and the OWN weekend closed with a cocktail reception at Legacy Kitchen with key influencers, tastemakers, an industry insiders celebrating the new series.
'Queen Sugar' is adapted from the novel by Natalie Baszile and tells the story of three siblings who inherit their father’s 800-acre sugarcane farm. After a family tragedy, the family must navigate the triumphs and struggles in order to run the ailing farm in the deep south. 'Queen Sugar' is DuVernay’s first television series, and all episodes in the debut season will be directed by women. Winfrey and DuVernay hope to break many barriers with this new series. Winfrey told those in attendance,
"The experience of Sugar has been elevating on every level. I knew that it was the beginning of a new day for our network. It's a different kind of television. It's luxurious, sensual, elevated, and it's real."
"We stand here in a space by the only Black woman who owns a network," said DuVernay.
Cast members in attendance included Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe, Omar Dorsey, Tina Lifford, Dondre Whitfield, Nicholas Ashe and Bianca Lawson. Oprah, Ava DuVernay, Gayle King, Lynn Whitfield, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Richard Lawson, Adrienne Bailon, Loni Love, Lalah Hathaway, Stevie J, Mona Scotty-Young and many more were also in attendance.
'Queen Sugar' will debut as a two-night event on Tuesday, September 6 and Wednesday, September 7 at 10PM ET/PT on OWN. The series will regularly air Wednesday nights at 10PM ET/PT for the remainder of its first season.
Check out a recap of the reception via RevoltTV below!