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Essence Festival kicks off Fourth of July Weekend

By Melinda Morris, | The Times-Picayune

Do you like celebrity-watching? Dance parties? Fashion shows? Hair tips? Are you a NASA nerd? Budding entrepreneur? Ballet fan? “Real Housewives” watcher? Gospel music lover? Bookworm? Fitness freak?

if you can’t find something that interests you at the daytime seminars at Essence Festival 2016, you’re not trying very hard. Daytime events at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center are free and open to the public this weekend.

The Essence Fest app for iPhone and Android is the easiest way to scope out all the events and when they occur; speakers (and nighttime performers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which are ticketed concerts) are also listed on the Essence website.

The biggest celebrity speaker was just announced: Oprah Winfrey on Saturday (July 2) at 4 p.m. But there are plenty more stars to see without paying a fee. Schedules are subject to change; here’s just a taste of what’s on tap.

Do you like “Real Housewives”? You know you do. See Phaedra Parks, attorney and mortician, of the Atlanta housewives on Friday at 1:05 p.m. Fans of WGN’s “America’s Underground” can see the cast Friday at 1:30 p.m.

Tyra Banks will be interviewed by Soledad O’Brien on Saturday at 12:50 p.m. And Banks will give 5-minute “Ty-overs,” which must be makeovers, on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. WB’s “The Real” cast is on stage Saturday at 12:50 p.m.

Coca-Cola presents a meet-and-greet with Tyrese at 1 p.m. The cast of the locally filmed show “Queen Sugar” on the WB is up on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. And the “Empire” cast from FOX will be on stage Saturday at 3 p.m.

Music lovers will want to check out Tank and the Bangas on Friday (July 1) at 11:10 a.m., an interview with Charlie Wilson Friday at 12:50 p.m., and an interview with Faith Evans on Friday at 1:50 p.m. Ne-Yo is interviewed Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

The “Street Style Fashion Show” is at 4:45 p.m. on Friday and 5:30 Saturday. Sounds like fun. So does the dance party from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday and 4:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks Saturday at 3:15 p.m. Ballerina Misty Copeland is up at 3:40 p.m.

A moms prayer vigil is Sunday at 8:30 a.m.

Check out the schedule for lots of makeup and hair tutorials and demonstrations with Internet “vlogger” experts. Yoga and fitness classes are scheduled throughout the weekend. You can even hear from Michelle Obama’s hair stylist at the White House for the past eight years on Sunday at 1:45 p.m.

Is there more? A lot more. Check out the full schedule on the iPhone and Android Essence Festival app.

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