ABFF Honors Denzel Washington, Queen Latifah, Issa Rae, and Black Talent in Hollywood


The extraordinary achievements of African Americans in cinema will be celebrated tonight at the 2017 BET Presents the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Honors. The award ceremony pays tribute to black culture, and recognizes distinguished contributions made by African Americans working in film and television. Yet, despite their immense impact on American entertainment, these stars are continually snubbed by Hollywood and traditional ceremonies like the Oscars.

Hosted by actress and comedian Regina Hall, the award show, which taped live in Los Angeles on Saturday, includes appearances by Viola Davis, Common, Pharrell Williams, Lee Daniels, Morris Chestnut, Omari Hardwick, and Anika Noni Rose, who take the stage as presenters. Cecily Tyson, Jay Ellis, Kofi Siroboe, Alexandra Shipp, Luke James, and Kylie Bunbury also make special appearances.

A number of African Americans are honored at this year’s event, including iconic entertainers Denzel Washington, who received the “Hollywood Legacy” award, and Queen Latifah, who took home the “Entertainment Icon” award. Other award recipients include writer, producer, and actress Issa Rae, who was presented with the “Rising Star” award, and Terrence Howard, who received the “Excellence in the Arts” award.


(Image: Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)


In addition to these on-screen stars, ABFF Honors will also recognize F. Gary Gray, the director and producer behind Straight Outta Compton, Friday, and Set It Off, with the “Excellence in the Arts” award.

Up for the “2016 Movie of the Year” is Birth of a Nation, Moonlight, Fences, Hidden Figures, and Queen of Katwe. Meanwhile, the category for the “Television Show of the Year” is just as competitive, pitting Atlanta, Black-ish, Insecure, Power, and Queen Sugar against each other as nominees.



Film lovers will also be treated to a special, 20th  anniversary tribute to Love Jones, which received the “Classic Cinema” award. The stars of the film, Nia Long and Larenz Tate, are not only reunited for the occasion, but Maxwell and Dionne Farris also perform hit singles from the soundtrack.

ABFF Honors will air on BET on Wednesday, February 22, at 8:00 p.m. E.T.

Watch a preview of the ABFF Honors below.


ABFF Honors: Issa Rae Hacks Hollywood

ABFF Honors

The who’s who of Hollywood will be in full effect on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at the 2017 BET Presents: ABFF Honors, hosted by the incredibly entertaining Regina Hall. Everyone from Denzel Washington, who will be presented with the Hollywood Legacy Award for his undeniable contribution to the arts, to Queen Latifah, who will receive the Icon Honoree Award for her consistent list of ever-growing accolades, will be there.

Other honorees include F. Gary Gray and Terrence Howard, both being honored for the Excellence in the Arts Awards, but, it should be noted, for very different reasons. Gray for his incredible roster of directing projects and Howard for his ability to integrate his musical genius into his current roles.

But for me, the standout of the Honorees for the evening is Issa Rae, presented with the Rising Star Award. Why? Because she used technology to hack Hollywood. While each of her counterparts took the traditional route, hustle, intermixed with a bit of timing, allowed Rae to do something new and innovative.

Pharrell-Williams-Issa-Rae-ABFF-Honors (Image: Earl Gibson III/Pharrell Williams/Issa Rae)


Long gone are the days of being discovered or looking for an agent to book you gigs. In this modern day and age, if you want it, you have to create it yourself and that is what she did. With the creation of Awkward Black Girl, she propelled her web series into the success of what is now known as the popular HBO television series, Insecure. She carved out a niche that had been virtually unrepresented on the television screen but, extraordinarily prominent in the African American community, causing millions of viewers to tune in. HBO has already ordered Season 2 and Rae is well on her way.  

Watch the acceptance speeches from all of these incredible Honorees, including performances from Maxwell, Dionne Farris, and fan favorites, the cast of The New Edition Story. Also, tune in to find out who won Television Show and Movie of the year this Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 8P/7C on BET.




Sequoia BlodgettSequoia Blodgett is the Technology Editor for Black Enterprise, Silicon Valley. She is also the founder of 7AM, a lifestyle, media platform, focused on personal development, guided by informed, pop culture.


ABFF Awards: A Groundbreaking Celebration of Black Hollywood

O'shea Jackson Jr., actor

ABFF Film of the Year went to Straight Outta Compton, which starred O'Shea Jackson Jr. (pictured).

Last night on BET and Centric, America got a chance to experience black star magic with the ABFF Awards: A Celebration of Hollywood, brought to you by ABFF and BET.

Hosted by the hysterical comedian and actor Mike Epps, the awards show was overflowing with the highest echelon of black entertainment with appearances from Hollywood heavy-hitters, including Robert Townsend, Pharrell Williams, Lisa Raye McCoy, Ice Cube, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Kerry Washington, Tracey Edmonds, Anthony Anderson, Iyanla Vanzant, Taye Diggs and Robert Downey Jr.

[Related: Combatting #OscarsSoWhite: Russell Simmons Launching All Def Movie Awards]

The ABFF Awards was an exceptional evening of recognition, appreciation, laughter and camaraderie as actors and entertainers paid homage to those who paved roads leading to Hollywood before them, and those who carried torches of African American artistry, lighting their way.

Jamie Foxx kicked off the award presentations by honoring film producer Will Packer with the ABFF Alumni Award. “You are looking at somebody that had that opportunity. All I needed was a chance,” said Packer upon receiving his honor. “I am a product of an institution that said, ‘You are enough,’ that said, ‘What you’re doing is important,’” he continued, speaking of opportunities afforded to him by ABFF.

The award presentations continued as Taye Diggs presented the Award for Excellence in the Arts to Regina King, which was hilariously intercepted by Regina Hall. Hall then went on to present the Television Show of the Year Award to the much deserving cast of Blackish, which was succeeded by a sultry performance by striking vocalist Bozeman.

The power move-making director of Creed, Ryan Coogler, was lauded throughout the evening for his continued accomplishments in film, and he received the Rising Star Award, presented by actress Octavia Spencer.

Faizon Love and JB Smoove honored Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle with the Classic Film Award before Robert Downey Jr. hilariously presented Don Cheadle with the ABFF Excellence in the Arts Award.

One of the evening’s highlights was a moving tribute to the 2016 Legacy Award Winner, the iconic and incomparable Diahann Carroll, which was presented by Kerry Washington and Keke Palmer.

The most coveted award of the evening, Film of the Year, was presented by funnyman Anthony Anderson to none other than Straight Outta Compton.

The evening concluded with a special performance by Morris Day & The Time.

The ABFF Awards was a long overdue recognition and tribute to black television and cinema, and the celebration will continue June 15-19, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida at the 2016 American Black Film Festival. Register now!

ABFF Awards Celebrates Black Film and TV Tomorrow on BET

Tomorrow, Feb. 23, all of Hollywood will be tuned in to Centric and BET at 8 p.m. (EST/PST) for the 2016 ABFF Awards: A Celebration of Hollywood.

Hosted by comedian Mike Epps, this star-studded event is the talk of the industry as the ABFF Awards ceremony celebrates black culture and recognizes individuals, movies, and television shows of the past year that have had a significant impact on American entertainment, as well as the people who have been proponents in championing diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.

The perfect counter to #OscarsSoWhite, ABFF and BET step in to lift up the tremendous and recognizable accomplishments blacks have made in the entertainment industry at large. The ceremony will not only honor those who are making strides in film and television today, but also those who blazed trails before us.

[RELATED: ABFF Short Films Premiere on HBO]

The legendary Diahann Carroll, will be presented with the Hollywood Legacy Award at this year’s event. In addition to her honor, television and film producer Will Packer will receive the ABFF Alumni Award, actor/director Don Cheadle will receive the Excellence in the Arts Award - male honoree, and actor/director Regina King will be the female honoree. The Rising Star Award honoree  for the ceremony is none other than director Ryan Coogler.

Check out a few of the awards nominees below:

TV Show of the Year Nominees

Being Mary Jane



How to Get Away With Murder


Film of the Year Nominees

Beasts of No Nation





Straight Outta Compton

If you’ve haven’t already, check out Black Enterprise’s Instagram for a sneak peek at who hit the red carpet, what was said, and what you can expect at the show.

Be sure to tune in TOMORROW, for the ABFF Awards Show on BET & Centric at 8 p.m. (EST/PST). Tweet @BlackEnterprise with hashtag #ABFFawards to let us know your award recipient predictions and favorite parts of the show!

For more information on the American Black Film Festival and the ABFF Awards:  A Celebration of Hollywood, go to www.ABFF.com, www.ABFF.com/ABFFAwards, www.BET.com and BET.com/ACelebrationOfHollywood.

For information about the 2016 American Black Film Festival check out Black Enterprise (@BlackEnterprise) via social media for constant news and updates.

ABFF Awards Honors Rising Star Ryan Coogler

This time next week there will be a “Celebration of Hollywood,” Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on BET and Centric as the American Black Film Festival, BET, and Black Enterprise host ABFF Awards, an annual gala saluting excellence in motion pictures and television.

This award show is on a mission to celebrate black culture by recognizing individuals, movies and television shows that have made a significant impact on American entertainment and those who champion diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.

Hosted by actor/comedian Mike Epps, ABFF Awards honor the works and legacies of seasoned actors and creators such as film legend Diahann Carroll, who will be presented with the Hollywood Legacy Award, television and film producer, Will Packer, who will receive the ABFF Alumni Achievement Award, actor/director Don Cheadle will be the male honoree for Excellence in the Arts Award along with actor/director Regina King who will be the female honoree. The Rising Star Award honoree goes to none other than director Ryan Coogler.

In honor of our Rising Star Honoree, Ryan Coogler, please check out this award winner’s path to stardom.

Born in Oakland California, avid student-athlete Coogler earned a football scholarship to St. Mary’s College before his talent for storytelling led him to begin shooting shorts with friends and teammates. He was later admitted into the USC School of Cinematic Arts where he went on to create award winning shorts Locks, Fig and Gap. After receiving his M.F.A, Coogler went on to create his now acclaimed first feature film, Fruitvale Station, the story of the last 24 hours of the life of Oscar Grant, who was shot to death by a police officer at Oakland’s Fruitvale BART station.

Following rave reviews from his debut feature film, in 2015 Coogler released mega-hit Creed, a spin-off of the Rocky films starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone.

It has also been announced that Coogler will be directing action, drama, sci-fi, Black Panther, due for 2018 release.

He is truly a rising star to be honored.

Catch Coogler and countless groundbreaking stars as they are honored for the work they do in the business, Tuesday, Feb. 23rd at 8 p.m. ET/PT on BET and Centric.

If you haven’t gotten the chance to check out Coogler’s first feature film Fruitvale Station here’s a little of what you’ve missed below. Check it out.

BET Networks Partners With American Black Film Festival For 2016 ABFF Awards

It has officially been announced that ABFF Ventures and BET Networks have partnered to produce the “ABFF Awards:  A Celebration of Hollywood,” hosted by actor and comedian Mike Epps and premiering on BET and Centric Tuesday, February 23rd at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

The Awards celebrates black culture and recognizes individuals, movies and television shows of the past year that have had a significant impact on American entertainment, as well as the people who have been proponents in championing diversity and inclusion in Hollywood. “Twenty years ago, I created the American Black Film Festival 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.”

[RELATED: American Black Film Festival Picks Up Where Oscars Left Off]

“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” will pay tribute to inspiring film legends Diahann Carroll,  who will be presented with the Hollywood Legacy Award, and television and film producer Will Packer who will receive the Distinguished ABFF Alumni Award.

It is also revealed that the Excellence in the Arts Award male honoree is Actor/Director Don Cheadle while the female honoree goes to Actors/Director Regina King. The Rising Star Award honoree is for the ceremony is Director Ryan Coogler.

“The ABFF Awards: A Celebration of Hollywood,” presented by the American Black Film Festival and BET Networks, will be one of the highlights of the Hollywood Awards season and Black History Month. The event is an ABFF Ventures production and is executive produced by show creator Jeff Friday, Debra Lee, Stephen Hill, Jesse Collins, Suzanne de Passe and Connie Orlando. Sponsors are Cadillac (Presenting Sponsor), Hilton Worldwide, Moet Hennessy, and Prudential Inc. (Gold Sponsors), and Morgan Stanley and Verizon (Silver Sponsors).

For more information on the American Black Film Festival and the ABFF Awards:  A Celebration of Hollywood, go to www.ABFF.com, www.ABFF.com/ABFFAwards, www.BET.com and BET.com/ACelebrationOfHollywood.

For information about the 2016 American Black Film Festival check out Black Enterprise (@BlackEnterprise) via social media for constant news and updates. Use hashtags #ABFFHonors and #ABFF20 to remain in the loop.

Black History Month: Then and Now in Television

Diahann Carroll and Kerry Washington

Diahann Carroll and Kerry Washington

In celebration of Black History Month, BlackEnterprise.com honors those history-makers who have come before us and those current influencers who carry their torch. Today, we honor these acting legacies.

[Related: American Black Film Festival Picks Up Where Oscars Left Off]


Diahann Carroll (1935-)

We must pay homage to the legendary and extraordinary Diahann Carroll, as she is the ultimate black history-maker as the first black actress in television history to star in her own series, Julia, for NBC; a role that earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series in her first season. In addition to her first Emmy nomination, Carroll also received nominations for her roles in NBC’s A Different World , ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, and ABC’s Naked City.

Along with her several Emmy nominations, Carroll was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in American film, Claudine, and several Golden Globe nominations for her roles in Claudine and Julia, for which she won Best TV Star in 1969.

Though these are all notable acclaims, Carroll’s arguably most-cherished role was that of first class diva, Dominique Deveraux Lloyd, on mega-hitting prime time soap opera, Dynasty.

Sixty years of Carroll’s artistic impact didn’t stop on the big and small screens. She is also a Tony Award winning Broadway actress with credits including Harold Arlen and Truman Capote’s House of Flowers, Richard Rodgers No Strings, and the award-winning play, Agnes of God.

In addition to her being an award-winning actress, Carroll is also a successful entrepreneur and humanitarian.

Diahann Carroll’s legacy will be honored at the American Black Film Festival and BET’s 2016 ABFF Honors awards gala, Feb 21st, Los Angeles, California, in celebration of black excellence in motion pictures and television.


Kerry Washington (1977-)

Following closely in Diahann Carroll’s footsteps is none other than, you guessed it, Kerry Washington. Washington brings the nation to a pause on Thursday’s when she lights up the screen as leading lady, Olivia Pope, in award-winning ABC prime-time series, Scandal. Washington follows Carroll as one of the very few African-American women to star as lead in a prime-time series, and be nominated for an Emmy for their performance.

Washington’s acting career became noticed by the mainstream in 2001 with her role as Chenille in American film, Save the Last Dance. Following this role, Washington’s career catapulted as she began to take on notable roles  in box office hits: The Last King of Scotland, I Think I Love My Wife, Ray, She Hate Me, For Colored Girls, and Django Unchained.

Her career accolades include several SAG and Primetime Emmy Award nominations for her remarkable performances in Ray and Scandal. She’s won several NAACP Image Awards for her work in Ray, Scandal and Django Unchained.

In addition to her thriving acting career, Washington is also an activist and humanitarian.

The world still impatiently waits for a black actress to take home the Emmy award for Lead Actress that both Carroll and Washington have now been nominated for. Fingers crossed that history will soon be.

#OscarsSoWhite But GLAAD Awards Embrace Diversity in LGBT Nominees

(Image: www.splashfilm.com)

Hollywood’s elite continue to address the most recent Academy Award whiteout. For the second year in a row, the nominations failed to nominate any minority actors, writers or directors. However, the names and shows to be honored this year at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards were recently announced and are not void of a diverse group of nominees. The GLAAD Media Awards honor outstanding media images of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and serve as a benchmark for the media industry and complement GLAAD’s work to bring LGBT images and stories to Americans.

GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis released the following statement after the nominations were announced: “For nearly three decades, the GLAAD Media Awards have propelled inclusion in media and driven LGBT acceptance forward. This year’s nominees have raised the bar for creating thoughtful and diverse LGBT images and storylines, deepening audiences’ understanding of LGBT people and accelerating acceptance across the world.”

This year’s nominations for outstanding film include Dope by Rick Famuyiwa, a Nigerian-American Hollywood film director, producer and screenwriter of films such as The Wood, Brown Sugar, and Talk to Me. The American Black Film Festival kicked off last year’s event with a screening of Dope, which was one of the most anticipated films of the year. The comedy-drama features names like Zoë Kravitz and Chanel Iman on screen, as well as big names like Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams behind the scenes. Dope is also among this year’s ABFF Honors Award nominees for best film.

[Related: American Black Film Festival Picks Up Where Oscars Left Off]

Receiving a bid for outstanding talk show episode is Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday interview with New York Times bestselling author, MSNBC host, and black transgender advocate Janet Mock.

Other nominees include:

Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series: Bessie

Outstanding Music Artist: Le1f, Riot Boi, XL Recordings/Terrible Records

Outstanding Talk Show Episode: “Janet Mock” Super Soul Sunda, OWN

Outstanding TV Journalist Segment:”Pushing for Equality for Transgender People” Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC.

Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBT character): Blackish

Outstanding Magazine Article: “The First Black Trans Model Had Her Face on a Box of Clairol,” Jada Yuan and Aaron Wong, New York; “Pride & Prejudice” by Linda Villarosa, Essence Magazine

Outstanding Digital Journalism Multimedia: ”Holler if You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church, by Clay Cane, BET.com

BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine was the proud winner of a GLAAD Media Award for the article “Black and Gay in Corporate America,”  July 2011 issue, and a GLAAD Media Award nominee for the article “Why Gay and Lesbian Couples Pay More,” April/May 2012 issue.

2016 ABFF Honors Honorees and Awards Announced

On February 21, 2016 at the Beverly Hills Hilton, ABFF Ventures will present ABFF Honors, a celebration saluting excellence in motion pictures and television. With ABFF Honors, black culture will be recognized for the impact and accomplishments black artistry has had on American entertainment. Hosted by actor and comedian Mike Epps, this ceremony will bring together hundreds of the industry’s most influential filmmakers, executives, and actors.

[RELATED: Open Letter to Hollywood: Because Hollywoodn’t]

With a plethora of exceptional talent and creation budding and thriving in the black community today, it is with great pleasure that ABFF Honors announces this year’s awards nominees and honorees.

2016 Honorees

Distinguished ABFF Alumni: Will Packer

Excellence in The Arts: Regina King

Excellence in The Arts:  Don Cheadle

Rising Star: Ryan Coogler

Hollywood Legacy: Diahann Carroll

Television Show of the Year Nominees 

black-ish (ABC)

Empire (FOX)

Power (STARZ)

Being Mary Jane (BET)

How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)

Film of the Year Nominees 

Beasts of No Nation (Netflix)

Chi-raq (Amazon Studios, Roadside Attractions)

Concussion (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Creed (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Dope (Open Road Films)

Straight Outta Compton (Universal Pictures)

The winners of the television and film categories will be determined by the 2016 ABFF Honors Awards Jury, which is comprised of top tier actors, filmmakers, film critics and industry executives.

Produced by Film Life and Black Enterprise, ABFF Honors looks to be one of the highlights of the Hollywood Awards season and Black History Month, despite recent exclusion in mainstream Hollywood’s ‘black art’ recognition. “I have always believed that the black artists in Hollywood would be more empowered if they were more committed to supporting one another, attending celebrations of their culture, and relied less on mainstream validation of their work,” says Jeff Friday, president and CEO, ABFF Ventures and Creator of ABFF Honors, “I hope that the success of ABFF Honors will change things.”

ABFF Honors will set the precedence for black excellence in filmmaking as writers, directors, actors, cinematographers, and producers gear up for the 20th Anniversary of the American Black Film Festival hosted June 15-19, 2016, Miami Beach, Florida. This year the festival takes its talent back to South Beach to celebrate two full decades of nurturing black art and culture by means of exposure, networking, showcasing and uplifting upcoming and existing African American artistry.

Book your ABFF festival passes now. For information on the American Black Film Festival, to purchase pass packages, or to book your hotel for this year’s festival, June 15-19 in Miami Beach, Florida, be sure to visit www.ABFF.com.

For more information on ABFF Honors and the 2016 ABFF check out Black Enterprise (@BlackEnterprise) via social media for constant news and updates. Use hashtags #ABFFHonors and #ABFF20 to remain in the loop.

2016 ABFF Honors: Actress, Singer, and Author Diahann Carroll to Receive Hollywood Legacy Award

Diahann Carroll

(Source: DiahannCarroll.net)

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) announced today that legendary actress, singer, and author Diahann Carroll will receive the 2016 ABFF Honors Hollywood Legacy Award at the first ABFF Honors awards gala on February 21, 2016.

As the first recipient of this award, ABFF Honors will shine a light on Carroll’s distinguished career, which spans over 60 years. As an Oscar nominee, Tony Award winner, Golden Globe winner, a four-time Emmy nominee, a Grammy nominee, and best-selling author, she has successfully maneuvered the worlds of film, television, music, and the stage.

[RELATED: ABFF Announces Common as 2016 Celebrity Ambassador]

Best known for her groundbreaking lead role as a nurse and single mom in the critically acclaimed television series Julia, Diahann Carrroll earned her first Emmy nomination. Her extensive television career includes the game-changing role as Dominique Devereaux on the internationally popular television series Dynasty, as well as recurring roles on USA’s hit series White Collar, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, and A Different World. In addition, Ms. Carroll received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and a Golden Globe award for her starring role opposite James Earl Jones in the film Claudine. Other notable films include Carmen Jones, Paris Blues, Porgy and Bess, Hurry Sundown, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and Eve’s Bayou.

On the stage, Carroll made her Broadway debut starring in the Harold Arlen/Truman Capote musical House of Flowers. After seeing her in that production, Richard Rodgers created his own starring vehicle for her, the Broadway musical No Strings, for which she won a Tony Award.

“Diahann Carroll is one of the most talented and distinguished artists in American history. We are looking forward to paying tribute to her rich trailblazing legacy,” said Jeff Friday, president & CEO of Film Life, Inc. and ABFF Ventures.

Hosted by actor and comedian Mike Epps, the ABFF Honors awards gala celebrates black culture by honoring individuals, movies, and television shows that have had a significant impact on American entertainment, as well as those who champion diversity and inclusion in Hollywood. The gala will feature a presentation of nine awards, including Film of the Year, Television Show of the Year, Excellence in the Arts, Hot In Hollywood, and the Hollywood Legacy Award.