ABFF Ventures and BET Networks partnered to produce the “ABFF Awards: A Celebration of Hollywood,” hosted by actor and comedian Mike
Epps celebrating top stars and filmmakers.
“Twenty years ago, I created the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) to spotlight the rich diversity of talent and achievement. It was born out of my love for film and desire to ensure that Black people gained opportunity and equity in every arena of Hollywood,” says Jeff Friday, ABFF founder and CEO. “I am truly honored to partner with BET to showcase the work of our most talented artists.”
“It’s clear that there’s a need for this show,” adds Stephen Hill, president of programming, BET Networks. “BET is very excited to partner with Jeff and ABFF to present ‘A Celebration of Hollywood.’ We will unabashedly acknowledge performances and achievements of African-Americans on screen from this past year and give special honor and recognition to artists that have thrilled us during their highly-acclaimed careers. 2015 was ripe with tremendous and inspiring performances by African-Americans and we are beyond thrilled to be the ones to recognize them with class and admiration.”
In addition to recognizing the top television shows and films of the year, the “ABFF Awards: Celebration of Hollywood” paid tribute to inspiring
film legends Diahann Carroll, who received the Hollywood Legacy Award, and television and film producer Will
Packer received the Distinguished ABFF Alumni Award.
The Excellence in the Arts Award male honoree went to Actor/Director Don Cheadle while the female honoree went to Actor/Director Regina King. The Rising Star Award honoree went to Director Ryan Coogler.
Best TV show went to ABC’s Black-ish. This is one of the funniest shows on television. Tight repartee, hilarious flashbacks, multigenerational push back, teenage angst, office high jinks and more–ABC’s hit comedy–Black-ish is must see TV.
Dre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) has it all: a great job, a beautiful wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), four kids and a big home in a classy neighborhood, but as a black man, he begins to question whether all his success has brought too much cultural assimilation for his family. With the help of his father (special guest star Laurence Fishburne), Dre begins to try to create a sense of ethnic identity for the members of his family that will allow them to honor their background while preparing them to embrace the future. Dre’s
interfering mother is none other than the incomparable Jenifer Lewis.
Kenya Barris is the creator of Black-ish and serves as its show runner. We spoke by phone recently in between breaks on the set–
Sandra Varner/Talk2SV: This show is most intriguing and I’m always pleasantly surprised by the direction that it goes in particularly the family dynamics. The title had many speculating during season one begging the question–is the word black-ish a kinder, softer, gentler replacement for the N word?
Kenya Barris: Um, I guess it could be though in its intent that’s not what the word meant. That word actually meant a sort of state of what I think most of what America is–black or white. I think we’re all sort of a homogenized version of each other–black culture has been appropriated in so many different forms. Different for me than for my children because the culture they’re growing up in is a bit more watered down. It’s a black-ish version of what I remembered from my childhood. All of their friends were a little bit more of a black/white persuasion; I think that’s what a lot of youth culture is. As a father raising those kids, I realized this is the culture we’re raising our kids in and this is the culture we’re growing up in as adults.
Talk2SV: Would you then say that black-ish is a state of mind or a state of being?
Barris: I think it’s a little bit of both. When I look at my life and probably in some ways your life and probably some of my neighbors’ lives I see so many reminders of our impact in this culture, in this society–that’s the sort of state of being we’re living in. At the same time, I look at myself and my state of mind when I go to work and I deal with all kinds of people, I have to be reminded of the fact that I am black and I think that’s my state of being, my state of mind. I am very proud of that and I am very aware of it as well.