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Essence Fest host Loni Love teases what to expect this weekend, with her as the first female host


Johnny Louis/FilmMagicLoni Love is making history at this year’s Essence Festival.  The comedian and actress, who’s been a longtime attendee of the annual event in New Orleans, will become the first woman to host the Louisiana Superdome mainstage concerts during this weekend’s 25th anniversary celebration.

Love tells ABC Radio she was beyond words when she was first asked to do the gig, but now that it’s less than 24 hours away, she’s focused — and has the perfect game plan.

“It’s a global experience and I am so proud and honored that Essence is [having] me host the whole shebang,” she says. “So, I got a lot of stuff up my sleeve. Of course, a lot of wig changes, a lot of costume changes. There will be hurricanes every night. I’m going to have a good time and I want everybody else to come and have a good time.”

As for what that “good time” will entail?  “We gone do the ‘Electric Slide,’ says Love.  “We’re gonna eat. We’re gonna do the Mary J. dance,” she says, acting out Mary J. Blige‘s signature dance moves. “You know, all of this. We gonna just have a good time.”

Essence Communication’s Chief Operating Officer Joy Profet agrees ,and explains what makes this seminal year different than previous ones.

“A woman hosting it: Loni Love,” Profet says. “Of course, mostly women. I mean, all women headlining, of course. We’ll have Missy Elliott headlining Friday night. Mary J. Blige and Michelle Obama, our forever first lady, there on Saturday night.”

“And then we have several women that are going to be doing wonderful things there,” Profet continues. “On Sunday night, Teyana Taylor is actually making her first mainstage appearance…H.E.R. will also be there. It’s just gonna really be an incredible weekend.”

However, Profet makes sure to note that Essence Fest has always been about more than just the late-night concerts and celebrity appearances: it’s about the honoring our rich culture.

“[T]he idea here is bringing culture, community, politics, which Michelle Obama represents,” says Profet. “Laughter and comedy, which Loni Love represents, and great music, all together into one epicenter of culture.”

For information about the Essence Festival and tickets, visit

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