Saturday, July 31, 2021

Top Executives at Essence Mag Step Down After Explosive Exposé

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From left: Former Essence executives Moana Luu, Richelieu Dennis and Michelle Ebanks – Getty

*Several key executives at Essence magazine have stepped down after they were put on blast in an explosive exposé about the publication. 

As reported by Page Six, a group going by Black Female Anonymous explained in a lengthy letter published on Medium why the magazine is “fraudulent” (among other things).

The group writes:

New owner and CEO Richelieu Dennis, Michelle Ebanks, Joy Collins Profet and Moana Luu collaboratively immortalize an extremely unhealthy work culture. Scores of talented Black women have been either wrongfully laid off or forced to resign from the company in the past two years. Essence’s C-suite leadership team strategically tells the market it “serves Black women deeply” under the safe seal of 100% Black ownership, but for the Black women who makeup over 80% of the company’s workforce, they are systematically suppressed by pay inequity, sexual harassment, corporate bullying, intimidation, colorism and classism. 

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Essence - Beryonce cover

Essence denied the allegations, insisting that the staff shake up was already in the works, and not the result of the group’s letter.

Here’s more from the Page Six article: 

Richelieu Dennis resigned as interim CEO, Page Six reported on Wednesday, but will remain on as the chairman of Essence. Now we’ve heard that COO Joy Collins Profet, board member Michelle Ebanks and chief content officer Moana Luu — who were mentioned in the piece that alleged a toxic workplace at Essence — have also followed suit.

Caroline Wanga was announced as interim CEO. But Essence said in a statement that Dennis “never held a CEO role … interim or otherwise,” after multiple outlets reported he’d stepped down as CEO. The magazine also claimed that Ebanks “has had no role in day-to-day operations since her departure” as CEO on March 31, and that “Profet notified the company of her departure two months ago … before the anonymous blog was posted.”

The company also said, “Luu will be recused from day-to-day operations” during an independent review. The execs have not individually commented beyond Essence’s statements.

A source told the outlet: “This is a very serious situation and there’s more than [Dennis] … There are steps being taken.” Another source said, “People would not be stepping down, or out, unless there was a verifiable problem.”

You can read the group’s full letter here

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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