Chronic Sheroines: Michelle Ebanks, Time Is of The Essence

We’re not saying she’s responsible for that Chrysler you couldn’t wait to grow up and get. What we are saying is Michelle Ebanks has endured the storms of change and the winds of time… heck… she’s been clocking dollars off time for a hot minute thereby making time her…

So anyway, Michelle Ebanks may not be a household name, but her name has likely been in your house at some point. For the last couple decades, Ebanks has worked at Time Inc and was the figurehead behind their most important acquisition… to black America.




When Time acquired Essence Magazine over 15 years ago amid controversy, Michelle Ebanks undoubtedly understood the historic impact the publication had within the black community. The magazine’s ability to present us in our multifarious brilliancy and gave others permission to dream was not lost on her. She overseen the acquisition, even becoming a group publisher with her background in finance.

mmIn the time it takes to get a bachelors, Ebanks was promoted to president of Essence Communications, Inc and largely responsible for the consistency in brand and message that made the readers transition seem seamless through the change in leadership. We have Black Twitter now, if there was inconsistency we definitely would’ve chirp about it.

In May of 2018, almost 20 years since Michelle Ebanks sprinkled her magic black woman, several degree holding, no seat having, business savvy dust all over Essence, the time has come for another change of the guard. Ebanks’ seal on the magazine we first read at the beauty parlor before having to get our own subscription, is deeply cemented. If Essence Magazine isn’t enough then how about the fact that SOMEbody has to funnel all those black folk in and out of New Orleans every year for that little festival.


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Bank on Ebanks being the one leading the way and overseeing the Essence Festival every year. No matter what city they try to hide it… we find it. Not for nothing, Essence Festival is getting a bit of a technology upgrade for 2018 and so long as they don’t try no Aaliyah hologram Cochella crap we cool with it.

The truth is, Ebanks may finally be at a place where she can take a breath, however short. On the other hand, truthfully, who knows? The race looks exhausting from the outside but like in that poem Nikki Rosa, all the while, perhaps she’s quite happy carrying the world on her shoulders. *shrug

Essence is returning to black ownership with the recent acquisition by *ahem Essence Ventures LLC. The founder of SheaMoisture is Richelieu Dennis, a real, live black man. Once again, Essence was bought by a venture capital LLC called Essence Ventures and it belongs to a black man. This is exciting news for sure! However, don’t go making it rain on CVS just yet.

Richelieu Dennis
Richelieu Dennis, founder of SheaMoisture, acquired Essence Magazine early 2018.

Firstly, this is old news. This is prehistoric news in the social media age which is why this article is not about the black ownership. Yes! It is fantastic that Essence Magazine has returned to 100% black ownership but can we give it up one time for the sistas!?

In a press release concerning the recent acquisition, Ebanks added more fantasy to the fantastical fantasticness of this all. “This acquisition of Essence represents the beginning of an exciting transformation of our iconic brand as it evolves to serve the needs and interests of multigenerational black women around the world in an even more elevated and comprehensive way across print, digital, e-commerce and experiential platforms,” said Ebanks. “In addition, it represents a critical recognition, centering and elevation of the black women running the business from solely a leadership position to a co-ownership position.”

opYes. She did. And, why not? She did it. She did that so black business women don’t have to go through that. Some of us can probably imagine Ebanks at Time Inc early in her career, a University of Florida business school graduate. Of COURSE she caught the Essence acquisition and called their bluff with a group publishing deal and several cha-chings and Maxwell-at-Essence-Festival-hip-thrusts later, here she is. Not only did she make a way for herself but she is now a member of a ALL BLACK WOMAN ER’THANG executive team.

Michelle Ebanks is riding the helm of this latest transition. Even as she slides from Time Inc to Essence Ventures, it appears her understanding of Essence impact on the black community has remained and even grown. A sit at the table was cute, very nice… but she’ll have a slice of that too please. In addition to joining the board of directors, she’ll have an equity stake in the company and it’s about time!







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