A Paterson, NJ native, Rosa Parks School of Fine and Performing Arts/Eastside High graduate and member of the Rutgers University Athletic Hall of Fame, Essence Carson is a 13-year WNBA veteran, All-Star, World Champion, philanthropist, speaker, and current Senior Manager of Label Relations and A&R Operations at Motown Records/Black Forum. Prior to her arrival at the world-renowned Motown Records, Essence started her career in the music industry at Priority Records and Caroline Records (now Virgin Records) of the Capitol Music Group. No stranger to initiating change as an active WNBA player, Essence has stood on the front lines championing equality and equity. Also deeply rooted in the community, she has been the ambassador of Health Equity Initiative (501c3) for over a decade. Continuously looking to change lives through Entertainment and Literary Arts, Essence has also contributed to the Watts Community Core “Unity Gain Crew” of Los Angeles, California.
Career at a Glance
Hailing from Paterson, NJ, Essence led Eastside High School (Paterson, NJ), to three Passaic County, State Sectional championships, and their first ever Group IV State title. Deemed an All-American by McDonalds, Parade, and WBCA, she went on to play colligate basketball at Rutgers University (NJ) under the tutelage of Hall of Fame coach, C. Vivian Stringer. At Rutgers, Carson made two Sweet-16, one Elite Eight, and one National Championship appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In arguably the most powerful conference in the country, Essence and Rutgers were able to bring home the Big East Tournament Championship trophy to New Jersey. Essence was also named a regional Kodak All-American and made the Kodak All- American honorable mention team in her final two years while at Rutgers. Over her colligate career, she was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in three consecutive seasons. Historically, this feat was only achieved by one other Big East athlete.
Selected seventh overall by the New York Liberty in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Essence became a WNBA All-Star in 2011. She then went on to win a WNBA Championship with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2016. The championship ended a 20-year drought for Los Angeles and was their first since the Lisa Leslie era.
A 13-year WNBA veteran, Essence spent eight seasons in New York (‘08-‘15), three years in Los Angeles (‘16-‘18), one season in Phoenix (2019), and one with Connecticut/Washington (2020). Carson has also played abroad in Turkey, Spain, France, Hungary and Italy during WNBA off seasons and has won several league championships and a FIBA EuroCup title. She was also a runner-up in the FIBA EuroLeague finals. While playing for our country’s coveted USA’s Young Women’s teams since the age of 16, she has amassed four gold medals. More recently, Essence was inducted into the Rutgers University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2020.