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Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Loretta Devine honored

February 25, 2011 |  6:51 pm

Jennifer Hudson and her son David On ascending the podium at Thursday’s Essence Black Women In Hollywood luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Jennifer Hudson gazed out at the audience, a sea of famous faces, and thanked everyone in the room for the award she was about to receive.

“I’ve sat back and watched all of you, and you are what inspired me,” said Hudson, an honoree, along with Angela Bassett, Viola Davis and Loretta Devine. “This is a first for me,” she added, “that I’ve walked into an event and I actually know who everybody is.”

Indeed, it was quite the star-studded crowd. Forest Whitaker, Amy Adams, Sharon Leal, Anika Noni Rose and Michael Patrick King, director of the “Sex in the City” films, came to introduce the award recipients. Kerry Washington, Kimora Lee Simmons, Serena Williams, Gabrielle Union, Garcelle Beauvais and Brandy were among the 340 invited guests.

Jesse Williams of “Grey’s Anatomy” said he came to show his support to all those who have been supportive of him, calling them "a touchstone of advice and wisdom.”

“I’m super-excited to be here,” Hudson said before ceremonies began, her 18-month old toddler, David, in tow. And for Amy Adams, “It was a no-brainer” to agree to introduce Davis, one of her costars in the film “Doubt.”  

Said Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications, “We choose to honor the biggest stars of the moment, women who can make the connection with millions of black women -- women who can inspire our readers to say, ‘Yes, if they can do that, I can follow my dreams.’”

During her acceptance speech, Davis’ eyes filled with tears, and she said, “My husband told me not to cry.”

“I’m motivated by the joy that’s in this room,” said Bassett. “I’m inspired by the rich wealth of talent that’s here today, and I’m captivated by the vision that we have of ourselves.”  

-- Ellen Olivier

Photo: Jennifer Hudson and her son, David. Credit: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images