Kerry Washington, Garcelle Beauvais, and Alfre Woodard stepped out on the red carpet in bold frocks at the 7th annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon to celebrate Lupita Nyong’o, who received the Best Breakthrough Performance Award. “Thank you very much for inviting me to be a part of such an extraordinary community. I am surrounded by people who have inspired me, women in particular whose presence on screen made me feel a little more seen and heard and understood,”says Nyong’o during her acceptance speech.

As stars mixed and mingled, and enjoyed a savory lunch complete with beet carpaccio, stuffed chicken, and a vegan eggplant dish, Nyong’o ended her emotional speech with a touching message for every girl and woman. “I hope that my presence on your screen and my face in magazines may lead you, young girls, on a beautiful journey,” she adds. “That you will feel the validation of your external beauty, but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.” How inspirational! To see who else stepped out for the event, look through our gallery!

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Josephine Cusumano with reporting by Heather Newgen