Inside the Pre-Oscars Sistahs Soiree with Viola Davis and Ruth Negga
Oscars week is packed with events leading up to the big night, but there’s none quite like Alfre Woodard’s annual Oscars Sistahs Soiree.
The exclusive, invite-only fête, which the veteran actress hosts each year, is the ultimate awards season girls’ night out affair, where actresses gather for an evening of bonding, inspiration, and celebration of their accomplishments as women of color in the industry.
This year marked the eighth time Woodard has put on the annual fete, with stars like Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, and Ruth Negga (above) flocking to an intimate suite at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., to enjoy the festivities.
While invitees weren’t beholden to a strict dress code, Negga stunned in a printed black Erdem dress paired with a soft fur wrap she couldn’t help but stroke as Spencer told her not to let it out of her sight.
“Don’t put that down,” the Hidden Figures star joked with a smile as she passed by her.
“I know!” Negga quipped in her charming Irish lilt. “I’m going to wake up tomorrow and this is going to be around my head or my feet. Some limb of mine.”
And although Loving star told InStyle she was “nervous” leading up to Oscar night—she's up for an award in the best actress category—she appeared at ease in the group as she mixed and mingled.
Meanwhile, host Woodard—who sported a Badgley Mischka dress complete with floral lace embellishments—told InStyle about why she continues to hold the event year after year.
“There’s a need to remind the industry of the depth of talent of women of color who are experienced, who have delivered, who have critical acclaim, who have box office, but they never get thought of unless it says five foot five, brown skin, or gold skin,” she told us.
“It’s to remind all of us that we are not vying for the three roles that they designate for said year...we’re not competing,” continued the actress (pictured below with Rosario Dawson and Rashida Jones). “We are colleagues. We’re sisters. We’re fellow artists. We support each other. We celebrate each other. We speak each other’s language, and so we get together to celebrate that.”
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As guests such as Westworld star Thompson—in a printed Rodarte dress and platform gold T-strap heels—arrived, they were greeted by waiters palming trays of drinks and small bites like crab cakes. Thompson told us champagne was her beverage of choice for the moment and noted with a giggle: “and then, for the rest of the night, I’ll just be sipping tea with all my old friends, with my new friends."
For the first hour and a half of the event, stars like Davis mingled with the likes of Lorraine Toussaint, Spencer, Yolanda Ross, Aja Naomi King, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste in a room sprinkled with color bouquets of roses and framed photos of iconic actresses of color, including one of Diahann Carroll, who was also in attendance.
“To walk into a room and know all the faces in there, and they are women who look like m, and being supportive of whatever is happening in each others’ lives and careers, there is nothing better than that,” 2017 Oscar nominee Spencer told us of being a part of the festive occasion.
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As the cocktail hour came to a close, guests gathered for the main tradition of the soiree at Woodard’s prompting—the group photo—with Angela Bassett rushing into the room just in time for the snap (above).
The event continued after that, with media heading out as the ladies enjoyed the evening together and celebrated the honorees—Davis, King, Spencer, Negga, and Edwina Findley.
See more of the stylish looks from the Oscar's Sistahs Soiree below.
Ruth Negga in Erdem and a Simone Rocha wrap.
Rashida Jones in a Stella McCartney coat and a Max Mara dress.
Rosario Dawson in Studio 189.
Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee Ellis Ross in Erin Fetherston.
Aja Naomi King
Aja Naomi King in an Alice + Olivia dress and Stuart Weitzman shoes.
Tessa Thompson in Rodarte with a Judith Leiber clutch, Ileana Makri jewelry, and Randall Scott Fine Jewelry.