Dana Elaine Owens (Queen Latifah) and ESSENCE’s Richelieu Dennis Announce New Partnership for Black Creators
Dana Elaine Owens known professionally as Queen Latifah and ESSENCE Ventures CEO, Richelieu Dennis announced a new and exciting partnership at this year’s ESSENCE Festival which began on Thursday, 5 July and ended on Sunday, 8 July. The deal will ensure that black creators can own their content and not just be work for hire.
Queen Latifah is a producer, songwriter, rapper, actress, singer and businesswoman. She was born in Newark, New Jersey.
Queen Latifah and Richelieu Dennis told the crowd that the Essence Fund will invest $20 million in capital in Black creators and makers and the fund’s first partner will be Flavor Unit Entertainment, Queen Latifah’s production company.
In the discussion on entrepreneurship, Queen Latifah spoke about the difficulty of securing funding for new ventures. The discussion featured Melissa Butler, The Lip Bar founder, and Beatrice Feliu Espada, The Honey Pot Company founder.
“One of the most difficult things is struggling to find the capital to continue your ideas,” said Latifah. “So, by supporting us, you are going to keep this engine running in a way you aren’t even going to imagine.”
Dennis clarified that what many people may not have known all these years is that when they were buying Shea Moisture products they weren’t just investing in that business, but they were helping the community. “We need you to continue buying Shea Moisture, so we can continue putting that money back in the community,” Dennis said.
According to Dennis, the venture is grounded in the fundamental belief that economic inclusion is a human right. People need to invest in each other to make sure that economic inclusion is achieved.
During the opening press conference for this year’s ESSENCE festival Dennis said, “Over the past six months, we have already either invested in or committed to over $30 million in Black women entrepreneurs.” “Black business owners succeed is a form of empowerment,” Dennis added.
The Essence Fund for Makers and Creators is the brainchild of Dennis and it is one of the ways in which he is reinvesting in Black entrepreneurs. And now with Queen Latifah on board, they are expected to cast the net wider and help many black women.
Queen Latifah is one of hip-hop’s pioneer feminists. In 2006, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her work in television, film and music has earned her an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Golden Globe Award, an Academy Award nomination, two NAACP Image Awards, and sales of over 2 million records.
By: Victor Ochieng