Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Debbie Allen, Mara Brock Akil, and Issa Rae are all power players in the entertainment industry—and they’re also all on the cover of Essence‘s May issue.
A brief rundown of the five’s accomplishments: Rhimes is the showrunner of both Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and an executive producer on How to Get Away With Murder. Ava DuVernay directed the Oscar-nominated Selma, is directing a pilot for CBS, and is working on a film set during Hurricane Katrina. Allen’s a director, choreographer, and actress who starred in the TV series Fame and has more recently directed episodes of Jane the Virgin and How to Get Away With Murder. Brock Akil created BET’s Being Mary Jane, now in its second season, and Rae is known for her multiple YouTube series—including Awkward Black Girl—and is working on a pilot for HBO along with The Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore.
These women are called game changers on the magazine’s cover, and Rhimes clarifies that “the fact that Black women are heating up the TV world … is not a trend to be dissected,” Essence wrote. “It’s an economic fact. There are more people of color than ever before,” Rhimes said. “When the shows start doing bigger numbers than what they think are going to be their top ten shows, it becomes really hard to suggest that it’s a trend.”
Read more over at Essence’s website, and pick up the issue when it hits newsstands April 17.