Essence Magazine debuted two covers for the July issue featuring the cast of the upcoming romantic comedy Think Like A Man Too. The covers—one with the film’s women, another with the men—are apart of the magazine’s “body issue” and features a fun, summer-inspired theme. Although both shots are gorgeous, some fans are upset the films white cast mates are missing.
Think Like A Man Too features a majority Black ensemble cast, including Taraji P. Henson, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Gabrielle Union, and more. But the film, which is the follow-up to the 2012 hit, also features two white actors, comedian Gary Owens and Entourage’s Jerry Ferrara. Both were left out of Essence’s spread, a fact many fans noticed when the publication shared its covers on Instagram.
Some vocal fans called the move “disappointing,” while others urged the mag to “grow up.” Some readers wondered if Essence’s decision not to include Think Like A Man’s white cast mates was unfair, and if “white” magazines would be able to get away with a similar move (I guessed they missed this).
While we don’t know for sure why Owens and Ferrara weren’t included in the spread, one thing that separates Essence from other magazines is its explicit mission to put Black folks first.
Though other glossies like Glamour, Marie Claire, and Vanity Fair sometimes feature Black entertainers and models on the cover, they do so to be inclusive—something Essence has never pretended to do.
Despite being owned by Time, Inc., Essence is a Black magazine. It’s editorial staff is Black, its founders are Black, and its audience is Black.
In a world in which Black people on the covers of “mainstream” magazines is still considered a big deal, I don’t have a problem with Essence sticking with its mission to put Black people, and particularly Black women, first.