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erika alexander issa rae tracee ellis ross "American Fiction" Los Angeles Special Screening - Arrivals

Source: Variety / Getty

ESSENCE has three new cover girls who are as beautiful as they are funny, influential, and inspiring: Issa Rae, Erika Alexander, and Tracee Ellis Ross. The three are the new leading ladies of “American Fiction.”

ESSENCE’s new cover story celebrates Erika, Tracee, and Issa’s authentic roles in the newly released film while highlighting the importance of each woman’s contribution to Black Hollywood, entertainment, culture, and, most importantly, sisterhood.

Erika, Issa, and Tracee each slay on the January/February cover with a photoshoot anchored in three coordinated looks. The outfits highlight the individuality of each starlet. Looks include pieces in relaxed-fit denim, monochromatic cream, and blue and grey.

Opting for colored braids in all of the images, Erika appears cool and coy, with a little edge. She slays in an exaggerated denim skirt from Black woman-owned brand Bed On Water. Tracee shows her natural curls and congeniality, donning wide-leg denim, a cool tee, and a Kilentar (Black woman-owned) fringe dress we love. Issa gives “dope, fly girl vibes” in luxury labels Chanel, Alexander McQueen, and Gabriela Hearst. Solange Franklin styled ensembles, and photographer Micaiah Carter captured the photos.

Tracee, Issa, and Erika’s contributions to ‘Black Girl Magic’

"American Fiction" New York Screening

Source: Jason Mendez / Getty

Repeated themes of intersectionality, representation, and authenticity flow throughout the story. While giving flowers to the iconic roles of “Living Single’s” Maxine Shaw, “Girlfriends’” Joan Clayton, and “Insecure’s” Issa Dee, the piece manifests the beauty and impact of Black women taking up space and changing the world.

“Their mega-hits Girlfriends, Insecure and Living Single continue to influence us—and to illustrate how Black womanhood is conceptualized, showcased and observed. It wasn’t until shooting this ESSENCE cover that the trio even realized how their roles and presence in this film intersect with the reasons why a magazine like ours exists,” ESSENCE writer Kimberly says.

Each of the cover stars reflects on their careers and monumental roles. After noting how much “Insecure” changed her life, Issa summed up her feelings by saying, “I played a character who was a younger version of myself, or so I thought, and I didn’t recognize that I still exhibited those insecure traits, the lack of confidence in some areas. Ironically, doing this show made me so confident. Playing this character who was uncertain of herself, similar to you, is just like—I am very much not that anymore, and I am very sure of myself and what I’m doing. I’m sure of myself behind the scenes. It taught me a lot of lessons that I put into place in my real life. So I thank her for shining light on my strength.”

“American Fiction” opened in select theaters on December 15 and will be available everywhere in January 2024. Read the ESSENCE article here.

Tracee Ellis Ross, Erika Alexander, And Issa Rae Are New ‘ESSENCE’ Cover Girls  was originally published on