If real change is to be made in Hollywood for people of color, it has to start from the top. So say some of the most powerful black women in entertainment when Variety asked about the biggest challenges they face in the industry.

“We have writers, we have directors, we have actors, we have artisans — we have everything that you need in order to make great work, work that deserves to be seen,” “How to Get Away With Murder” star Aja Naomi King told Variety. “The one thing where I think we need more of [a black woman’s] presence, is in the boardrooms where they are selecting what is going to get made and how much money it’s going to get when it gets made.”

“The Talk” host and actor Sheryl Underwood agreed, noting that having women of color in positions of power cannot just be “ceremonial.”

“We need women that can say ‘I see that, let’s move forward’ or ‘I’m making this decision’ or ‘This is what I’m doing.’ You want to see it in front of the camera, behind the camera, in the executive suites,” Underwood explained. “What’s a wave that’s happening in this country, it should happen in this industry.”

“I love events like this because we get to focus less on the challenge and more on the solution. We get to look at each other and be inspired by each other,” “Little Fires Everywhere’s” Kerry Washington added, noting the venue where the interviews took place, Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood awards luncheon. “Today is really about that – about celebrating each other, about bringing each other into the fold, and focusing on the fact that we are the solution together.”