Want to know why events like the ABFF Awards, a Golden Globe Award-styled ceremony that honors black achievement in television and film, exist?
That cleverly stated phrase may seem simplistic, but 20 years ago, it led Jeff Friday to create the American Black Film Festival and, this year, the ABFF Awards (also called the ABFF Honors).
“ABFF doesn’t wait around for someone else to acknowledge them,” “True Blood” actress Adina Porter told me during the ABFF Awards held at the Beverly Hills Hilton on Sunday.
And because Friday and his team didn’t wait around for someone else, Will Packer, Kevin Hart and Ryan Coogler are among the many who credit ABFF with helping them kick-start their careers.
That’s why it was easy for Packer and Coogler along with many of your other faves like Kerry Washington, Pharrell Williams, Anthony Anderson, Nia Long, Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Omari Hardwick, Ice Cube and Don Cheadle to show up and show much love for one another. Black Enterprise and BET Networks partnered with ABFF Ventures to help Friday’s vision manifest and Mike Epps served as host.
For those unfamiliar with ABFF, Friday founded it in 1997 after attending the Sundance Film Festival. He loved the popular Utah-based event but found himself disappointed with the low number of black American attendees.
“I went to Sundance and I saw like five black people. And because I enjoyed it so much, but it wasn’t diverse enough, I decided to do a Sundance for us,” explained Friday, who founded ABFF, originally called the Acapulco Black Film Festival, later that year. ABFF 2016 will take place in Miami Beach from June 16 to 19.
If you want to learn more about Friday, his thoughts on the Oscars boycott and much more, check out my interview with him here. Watch all things ABFF, including exclusive interviews with filmmakers, actors and ABFF films, here.
"ABFF Awards: A Celebration of Hollywood" airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on BET and Centric. Read below to find out 10 reasons why you should tune in!
WATCH: For the Love: Robert Townsend’s ABFF Interview
1. It’s the first of its kind. Though events like the NAACP Image Awards, BET Honors and Essence Black Women in Hollywood exist, Jeff Friday said the ABFF Awards would recognize men and women who work in TV and film only. He added, “Eventually the show will incorporate awards for sound and costume.”
2. The honorees. Diahann Carroll receives the Hollywood Legacy Award, Don Cheadle receives the Excellence in the Arts Award, Ryan Coogler receives the Rising Star Award, Regina King receives the Excellence in the Arts Award and Will Packer receives the ABFF Alumni Achievement Award. These ladies and gentlemen have achieved much in their careers and are well deserving of their honors. So, it’s no wonder that people came out to support them. Plus, learn who receives TV Show of the Year and Film of the Yearawards.
3. The Diahann Carroll tribute. I won’t give too much away but will say KeKe Palmer, Kerry Washington and Loretta Devine’s tribute to this black-don’t-crack 80-year-old will warm your heart. Plus, Carroll’s acceptance speech will have you tearing up as she drops a lot gems about life and her experience in the industry.
4. Regina King’s acceptance speech. King went there during her acceptance speech. The “American Crime” star’s emotionally powerful message touched on the violence occurring against black Americans and also had attendees sniffling.
5. Jamie Foxx… Whew, I don’t know what will and won’t get cut by the time the broadcast airs, but Mr. Foxx was cuttin’ up as he presented the first award of the evening to Packer. He was the true comedian that he is and we loved it!
6. The opening montage. Just watching snippets of your favorite actors and actresses in action makes you seriously question why many of them don’t receive more acclaim than they do.
7. The love. When I tell you that it was truly beautiful to see many black men and black women, particularly A-listers, come out to this first ever event to support one another and honor ABFF… words can’t really describe it. Sure, black Americans will support and honor one another, but there’s still this belief among some that we don’t support one another. This event will hopefully shut naysayers down.
8. The elders. You know I love the AARP crowd! So, my heart was overjoyed to see Carroll get honored and veterans like Devine, Louis Gossett, Jr., Suzanne de Passe, Carl Weathers and Joe Morton share their wisdom and support those following in their footsteps.
9. Ryan Coogler’s speech. If you thought you liked Coogler before, you’ll love him after hearing how his parents, his fiancée and ABFF helped him get to where he is now.
10. Because Hollywoodn’t. “I just want to make our black community proud. I want to prove that black folks do support each other, that we really do have a thriving film community. And, yes, we did it because Hollywouldn’t. But, we don’t need validation from the mainstream. There is nothing like love from your own people,” Friday said during an ABFF kickoff party in Chicago earlier this month. Amen!