Essence Festival: Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall Join Star-Studded Lineup (Exclusive)

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Jada Pinkett Smith

Several networks and studios have come on board the event, which takes place June 29-July 2 in New Orleans.

TV networks and studios are diversifying their marketing efforts, capitalizing on the popularity and fanfare of the Essence Festival.

Talent from ABC, Bentonville Film Festival, Disney, Fox Broadcast, FX, HBO, Netflix, OWN, Starz, TNT and Universal are expected to make their way down to New Orleans to join in on the multiple-day event full of performances, speakers and more, representing shows like Queen Sugar, Empire, Insecure and many others.

Last year, casts participated in moderated Q&As, walked the general exhibition floor and even screened sneak peaks of upcoming seasons. A highlight was Ava DuVernay bringing the entire cast of Queen Sugar together to discuss the diversity of the show. The daytime experience is free and open to the public.

Confirmed talent includes Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish of Will Packer Productions/Universal Pictures Girls Trip (hitting theaters July 21) and Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny and Brittany O'Grady from Lee Daniels' Star on Fox.

"Hollywood has embraced the Essence Festival as the ultimate fan destination to launch new film and television productions," said Staci Hallmon-Bazzani, vp sales and brand director at Essence. "The audience appreciates storytelling that reflects diverse images and experiences and is especially vocal and influential on social media."

The Essence Festival is being presented by Coca-Cola. Other major sponsors include State Farm, AT&T, Walmart, McDonald's and Ford. The Superlounge sponsors include Coca-Cola, Ford and Walmart. The All-Star Gospel Tribute is sponsored by Walmart.

The long-running annual event takes place from June 29-July 2 in New Orleans at the Mercedes Superdome and Ernest E. Morial Convention Center.

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