Angie Martinez

Angie Martinez

Angie Martinez is recognized as one of the most influential personalities in popular culture and multi-media. Originally known as "The Voice of New...Full Bio


Caroline Wanga Breaks Down Top 8 ESSENCE Covers, Journey to CEO + MORE

Today, Angie Martinez had the honor of sitting down with Caroline A. Wanga, President & CEO of ESSENCE Ventures.

Caroline came through to discuss the STUNNING four new covers of Essence Magazine, photographed by Emily Buckles featuring the beautiful people of New Orleans. She also delved into Essence magazine's constant involvement in the New Orleans community and Mardi Gras, revealing that they visit the city quarterly, not just for the Essence Festival. Interestingly, she reveals that Essence Magazine staff used to sit on their Mardi Gras floats but have now given up their seats to community members.

Angie then asked Caroline to give a quick crash course on the Essence Festival of Culture (EFOC) for newcomers. About which Caroline shared that this year marks the 30th anniversary of EFOC, which will include a Cash Money Records 30th birthday celebration. The event this year will also honor Franky Beverly & MazeJanet JacksonBirdman & Friends and Usher. During a hilarious moment Caroline joked that she might be selling bathwater from Usher’s Essence cover shoot at Essence Fest.

The two then went on to breakdown the Top 8 Essence Covers:

Caroline and Angie discussed the top eight Essence covers in no particular order, starting with "Box Office Chocolates," which made Caroline blush a lil. They moved on to Queen Whoopi Goldberg's cover, about which Caroline said, "That woman created a life moment for me. She's such a wonderful person.”

They discussed the Erykah Badu cover, with Caroline reminiscing about buying her first Badu CD as a young lady. The Alek Wek cover resonated deeply with Caroline, as both women are African. She recalled that seeing the cover made her feel beautiful and walk differently.

When discussing the Diana Ross cover, Caroline stated, "I've never heard her name so hard to define. I've never seen a person so powerful that you can't find words to describe her. That woman is an icon."

While discussing the "Telling Your Child About Race" issue, Caroline stopped down to acknowledge that Essence Magazine initially featured non-celebrities, including gang members, lesbians, and people with AIDS, showing no fear in their storytelling.

Angie brought up Zendaya's cover, which was significant for Caroline, as it marked her start at Essence in June 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. She shared a touching moment she witnessed where Storm Reid confided in Zendaya, saying she never gave up because of her, and both young actresses cried together.

The final cover discussed was Rihanna’s about which Caroline revealed that they had to repair their relationship with Rihanna to secure the cover and that Rihanna wanted to feature another iconic female artist, so she brought along Photographer and multimedia Artist Lorna Simpson to work with her. Caroline honored Rihanna for using the cover to highlight more women.

Caroline closed the interview with an inspiring quote that she lives by, leaving a lasting impression on Angie and all those in the room.

Essence’s ‘We love Us’ Festival of Culture is happening July 5-7 and tickets are on sale on

Check out the interview below:

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