The 2017 American Black Film Festival Honors Review – Creating Roles and Diversity

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Jeff Friday at the “ABFF Honors Presented by Cadillac,” Photo Credit: Michael Rowe

The amount of cinematic intelligence is breathtaking, especially in todays society. However there is one factor that is undoubtedly missing – diversity. Over the years minorities have continued to climb the ladder and push envelopes when it comes to telling compelling stories and shattering the glass ceiling. Through perseverance we have seen some of the most powerful acts of courage and strength come to fruition through the power of film and television. The American Black Film Festival sheds light on those actors that have broken the barriers of cinematic excellence and champion diversity.

Presented by Cadillac, The American Black Film Festival Honors, (ABFF) was held at The Beverly Hilton. The evening kicked off with a delicious meal while discussing the barriers and perseverance over the years. The gala itself was emcee’d by the talented and hilarious Regina Hall.

” The ABFF Honors is an amazing example of the mission of ABFF Ventures: to develop unique programming and innovative platforms showcasing outstanding African American creative and business talent in Hollywood, as well as to envelop and motivate new generations of filmmakers,” states Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., President & CEO of Black Enterprises. “The intensity of spotlight not he unfair practices and out-of-touch standards of the Hollywood establishment has resulted in encouraging signs of change over the past year, with African American actors, directors, writers, producers, and other exceptional professionals earning much-deserved recognition for their outstanding work.”

Queen Latifah attended “ABFF Honors, Presented by Cadillac” at The Beverly Hilton
Photo Credit to: Michael Rowe

Much praise and glory goes to the nominees and winners of the ABFF Honors.

The ‘Entertainment Icon Award’ went to Queen Latifah, ‘Excellence in the Arts Award’ went to Terrence Howard, ‘Rising Star Award’ went to Issa Rae, ‘Excellence in the Arts Award’ went to F. Gary Gray and the ‘Hollywood Legacy Award’ went to Denzel Washington. Homage was also paid to Love Jones, a true classic.

From Queen Latifah stirring up conversations over the years to us watching Denzel Washington in awe in every single performance, each honoree has told compelling stories that are all too relatable.

Common attended “ABFF Honors, Presented by Cadillac” at The Beverly Hilton
Photo Credit to: Michael Rowe

Amongst all of the presenters and speeches being in a room was so much talent was an out of body experience. I was filled with so much emotion and moved by being amongst so much talent, like-minded, game-changing, fearless individuals.

A moment from the evening that hit close to home was Pharrell Williams presenting the ‘Rising Star Award’ to Issa Rae. From the web series, ‘Awkward Black Girl’ to having everyone glued to the television Sunday nights for the hit-television show, ‘Insecure,’ Issa Rae has managed to connect with each of us. “She pushed the envelope and broke stereotypes in a dynamic way. she made not fitting in cool and made being different interesting – she speaks to us,” Pharrell exclaimed. “That is the kind of example that young girls and everyone needs.”

The evening concluded with a performance by Maxwell and could easily be described as enchanting. There is no better feeling than coming together to discuss ideas to reach new heights and overcome stereotypes that minorities.

Following a lovely evening celebrating the glory of diversity in film and television with American Black Film Festival, ABFF, a few select attendees gathered at the hotspot Catch LA to reflect. Attendees were treated to a five-course meal and cocktails while taking in the views of Los Angeles and taking part in compelling conversation.

Over the years minorities have been denied roles based off of the sheer color of their skin and without taking into consideration of undeniable talent displayed. Congrats to the honorees and thank you to the ABFF for encouraging this conversation that is way overdue.


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