Essence magazine invited the biggest stars to celebrate the success of black cinema on the cover of their March 2014 collector’s issue. Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan and Chiwetel Ejiofor are all featured on the cover of the special edition issue. It is released on the heels of Vanity Fair’s very own Hollywood issue, which included six black actors – including Jordan and Ejiofor – on its cover for the first time in 20 years.
In Essence, readers learn more about the major roles these actors played on the big screen and discover some of the challenges they faced along the way. Winfrey returned to acting for her first time in 15 years as Gloria Gaines in Lee Daniels’ The Butler – a role her acting coach told her required her to be more sexy.
“”I don’t think of myself as being sexy and I’m not even sure how one is sexy,” she admits. Her acting coach instructed her: “Every time Gloria walks, pretend that she has a tail. And when Gloria sits down, she doesn’t sit without making sure there’s room for her tail.”
As for Ejiofor, the British actor is nominated for an Academy Award for his role in 12 Years a Slave. But while his delivery onscreen was powerful and moving, he admits that taking on that role was emotionally draining. According to Essence, he said it was walking the “fine line in between sanity and insanity.” “Even though there were emotional moments to shoot, overall I think every member of the cast and crew was there for one reason: They felt it was a tale that deserved to be told,” he added.
The special edition issue also features the 75 movers and shakers in the film industry right now – including a photo shoot with new Hollywood “It” girl Lupita Nyong’o.
The March issue of Essence is on newsstands February 10.