For months, ESSENCE – the leading media, technology and commerce company serving Black women and communities – had planned an impressive schedule of activities and celebrations to launch in May 2020 in honor of its 50th anniversary. Then, the COVID-19 global pandemic hit – with Black communities being most disproportionately impacted in the United States. Still, demonstrating how it has been able to thrive for five decades, ESSENCE has continued with a relentless commitment and innovation in service to its community – providing critical content, digital and virtual offerings, a new streaming platform and more to inform, empower and inspire during these times.
That same sense of purpose compelled ESSENCE to shift its 50th anniversary strategy amidst the pandemic and launch its Golden Anniversary Collector’s Edition issue entirely remotely for the first time ever -- paying homage to the incredible legacy of its community, while also capturing the current realities brought on by a global pandemic. In honor of ESSENCE’s milestone year, iconic supermodel Naomi Campbell partnered with ESSENCE to grace the magazine’s first self-shot and styled cover. In Campbell’s cover story, At Home With: Naomi Campbell, the supermodel prepares to celebrate her own milestone 50th birthday later this month and takes readers inside her life with an intimate self-portrait during COVID-19 social isolation. Using an iPhone, Campbell shot and styled all the photos herself -- marking the first time she has ever photographed herself for a cover.
ESSENCE’s special Golden Anniversary issue also takes a look at some of the joys, pains, laughter, triumphs and stories that have impacted the Black community over the past half-century—including the novel coronavirus and its effects on the lives of Black women and the community at-large today. Throughout this special edition, readers will be able to travel through time for some of the most inspiring, stirring and significant moments shaping and shaped by Black culture throughout ESSENCE’s 50 years—as well as look to what’s ahead, particularly post-COVID-19. ESSENCE is also inviting its community into the coverage and conversation by sharing their own COVID-19 stories for ESSENCE.com. Click here for details.
"Our nation and our world are enduring a crisis at a scale that our generation has never seen, but this time also reminds us of the power of our resilience, innovation and community – which have sustained ESSENCE for 50 years and will help ensure it thrives for the next 50 advancing global Black culture, economic inclusion and ownership," said Richelieu Dennis, founder and chair of Essence Ventures, parent company of ESSENCE. "We could not be more excited to mark the 50th Anniversary of ESSENCE as a 100% Black-owned business that has not only revolutionized the publishing and media industries, but that has also become a cultural institution and home for Black women and communities globally. Since its inaugural issue in May 1970, ESSENCE has expanded beyond the pages of a ground-breaking flagship magazine to multi-platform stages, experiences, and digital and brand extensions including the unparalleled ESSENCE Festival of Culture, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood, ESSENCE.com, ESSENCE Studios, industry-recognized podcasts, television specials, books and more. We have been able to do this because of our uncompromising focus on the evolving needs of our community and our community’s unyielding support of us. While we have shifted the majority of the ESSENCE 50th Anniversary activities and engagements to 2021, this incredible special collector’s edition issue marks the beginning of our milestone celebration of Black culture, community, achievement, progress and the work that remains to be done.”
Additional 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition editorial packages include:
COVID-19 Essay Feature: ESSENCE editors share their personal journeys of adjusting to the new reality of social isolation in these challenging times. Despite differing experiences, the essays have a common thread of what ESSENCE staff and the world are looking to for hope.
ESSENCE Uncovered: 50 Years: ESSENCE compiles its most iconic covers along with an essay/timeline on its evolution over the last five decades. The package illustrates ESSENCE’s impact, as well as the impact of those whose stories graced its pages.
Power—State of Black Women: By the Numbers: ESSENCE takes a deep dive into how Black women are doing and how their lives have changed over the last five decades across its key verticals—Fashion, Beauty, Culture, Power (News + Wealth) and Thrive (Lifestyle, Wellness + Love).
Ageless Beauties: #ThisIs50: In this fan-favorite feature, ESSENCE invites eight readers from across the nation who, like ESSENCE, are turning 50 this year for an exclusive photoshoot and beauty spread.
“For 50 years ESSENCE has showcased the brilliance, beauty, power and resilience of Black women, and now more than ever, in these unprecedented times, that is on display,” said MoAna Luu, ESSENCE Chief Content & Creative Officer. “In our Golden Anniversary issue, we are taking the best of the past, bringing it to the present and showing what our future looks like beyond the pages. By creating a meaningful multi-channel ecosystem that entertains with impact, we continue to reimagine ourselves to reach Black women everywhere and provide a seamless content experience across mobile, tablet, desktop and of course, our signature magazine. At ESSENCE, our approach to what we do and how we serve is timeless – reflecting and celebrating our culture and telling the truth with open hearts and open minds.”
For more on the 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition/May-June issue, visit ESSENCE.com.