Michelle Ebanks serves as President of Essence Communications Inc., the leading omni-channel media company dedicated to Black women with a global brand reach of over 15 million. Through the development of creative media and entertainment properties, Ebanks is setting a bold agenda for ESSENCE to serve an engaged community of Black women who are joyful, independent, socially-conscious and culturally-aware. Most recently, she led the team that helped reestablish ESSENCE as an independent, 100% African-American owned business at the nexus of content, community and commerce.
At the helm of ESSENCE since 2001, Ebanks has emerged as a foremost authority on women and the multicultural market, as well as a passionate brand steward focused on the cross-platform expansion of ESSENCE from traditional magazine media to an international powerhouse comprising digital, video, television and experiential. Under her leadership, the ESSENCE Festival is now the country’s largest annual consumer event—attracting over 450,000 attendees, with support from the world’s top enterprise partners.
Ebanks has also successfully spearheaded a variety of ESSENCE partnerships and new business initiatives, including the international expansion of the ESSENCE Festival to Durban, South Africa; the debut of the weekly video series ESSENCE Now; content partnerships with Twitter and Snap; and the annual Black Women in Hollywood Awards live event and television special on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Through diverse storytelling, empowering images and transformative original content across all platforms, ESSENCE is set to encompass Ebanks’ vision for the triumph of everyday women.
Before taking the reins at ESSENCE, Ebanks began a 15-year career at Time Inc. as the general manager and financial director for Time Inc.’s Money magazine. Subsequently, she was a vice-president in Time Inc.’s corporate division, where she led the acquisition of ESSENCE. Prior to joining Time Inc., she served as the corporate business manager for Condé Nast’s 13 titles.