Mekhi Phifer Reprises His Role as Max In ‘Allegiant’

Mekhi Phifer as Max (Image:

Mekhi Phifer’s career has had the type of longevity and diversity every actor strives for. He first came to our attention in 1995 as Strike, a drug dealer, in Spike Lee’s Clockers. Since then he’s starred in spoof comedies, horror flicks, and sci-fi movies, and portrayed everything from a doctor to a football player to a CIA agent, on the big and small screen.

[Related: Here’s A List Of The Most Influential African Americans at SXSW]

And Phifer’s career shows no signs of slowing down. He’s had a recurring role as Max in the Divergent films—the third of which, Allegiant, comes out Friday—and he has a number of projects in the works. He’s set to star in a remake of Alex Haley’s Roots, a miniseries that will air on A&E Network; he has a role as one of humanity’s last soldiers in the zombie apocalypse movie Pandemic; and he plays a police lieutenant in the upcoming CW Network series Frequency, adapted from the movie of the same name about a detective who is able to contact a deceased parent with a ham radio.

In Allegiant, Tris, your favorite female protagonist; her instructor Four; and most of the cast from the first two films in the Divergent series go beyond the wall, leaving everything they know and venturing into the world outside the post-apocalyptic city of Chicago. Now, instead of warring with factions within the city, they’re out to save all of humanity. There have been casualties and losses up until now, so needless to say, this won’t be a walk in the park.

“I had a great time filming [Allegiant]; it was great to work with everyone again,” says Phifer. “The cast has become like family and there are always good vibes on the set. And I love playing Max. Max is someone who stands up for what he believes in. I would say I have that in common with him.”

Check out these trailers:

ABFF Searches for Your Talent with HBO, Comcast NBCUniversal, TV One and McDonald’s

In keeping with the legacy of creating unique opportunities while actively working to diversify Hollywood, The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) has partnered with HBO®, Comcast NBCUniversalTV One and McDonald’s to develop talent discovery programs for up-and-coming actors, comedians, filmmakers and television hosts.

[Related: The Bunche Report: How Diversity Affects Hollywood’s Bottom Line]

“ABFF’s Talent Discovery Programs introduce dynamic content creators and artists to a broader audience,” says Melanie Sharee, ABFF programming director. “These programs are a rich mine for discovering new talent, and offer career springboards outside of the traditional film platform and entertainment industry.”

Comcast NBCUniversal will partner with ABFF for two talent competitions at the festival this year. The Star Project searches to find the next fresh face for film and television. If you are an actor ready to compete for the opportunity to audition in front of judges who are executives and casting directors from NBC, this is the competition for you. Submission and deadline info:

Returning to the festival is Comcast NBCUniversal’s Television Hosting Workshop, designed to help emerging TV hosts sharpen their skills and identify dynamic personalities ready for on-air opportunities. Submission and deadline info:

ABFF’s 4th annual Comedy Wings Competition, sponsored by HBO®, is a national search to identify outstanding comedic talent — people who demonstrate a natural ability to be funny. Submission and deadline information:

The HBO® Short Film Competition is regarded as one of the country’s most prestigious short film screening series. Each year, five filmmakers (writers and/or directors of African descent) are selected to screen their film at the American Black Film Festival in Miami, Florida, where one winner will be selected to receive the HBO® Short Film Award and cash prize of $10,000. Submission and deadline information:

The McDonald’s Video Competition offers an exciting opportunity for aspiring filmmakers and challenges them to create a 90-second video based on the concept of McDonald’s 365Black mantra, “Deeply Rooted in Your Community.” Three finalists will be selected to attend the ABFF and screen their video before the festival audience, where one winner will be selected. In addition, finalists will attend a private “Mentor Luncheon” with director Malcolm D. Lee (The Best ManBarbershop, The Best Man Holiday).  Submission and deadline info:

TV One’s 2nd annual Screenplay Competition will highlight three new writers who will receive an all- expense paid trip to the ABFF, where each finalist will get to direct a scene from their script. Each script will be performed by professional actors in front of a live audience at TV One’s “Celebrity Scene Stealers” event during the ABFF. Submission and deadline info:

To purchase passes, tickets and/or book hotel rooms for the 2016 American Black Film Festival, visit Join the conversation on social media using hashtag #ABFF20, #ABFFBackToTheBeach; @ABFF.


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,, and

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

Comcast Launches New Xfinity On Demand Destination Featuring ABFF Curated Film Collection

Recently, Comcast announced a Black History Month celebration with a special focus on stories from independent black filmmakers. As a part of the celebration, the cable giant launched a new destination on their Xfinity On Demand platform which highlights a special curated collection of films from the American Black Film Festival (ABFF). The new destination also includes a number of black notable films and television shows for Comcast customers looking to find entertainment from not only their favorite black performers, but also discover content from up-and-coming directors and actors.

[Related: ABFF Awards Honors Rising Star Ryan Coogler]

“Not every great story that’s been told has a box office opening and sometimes those stories are disproportionately black stories. So what we’re trying to do this year, in celebration of black history month, is to celebrate independent black film using the power of the Xfinity on demand platform,” says Keesha Boyd, Executive Director, Multicultural Consumer Services for Comcast.

Enter ABFF. In honor of the festival’s 20th anniversary, Comcast tapped ABFF to curate a collection of short and feature films that have been exhibited over 20 years at the festival. Boyd states, “When we talk about who has been a pioneer for independent black filmmakers, it’s ABFF.  They’ve been in this space for 20 years and we want to support them in celebrating these films. We partnered with ABFF to do what the festival does—to bring awareness and exposure to new black filmmakers and new content starring up-and-coming African American actors. We can use the power of our platform to provide the ability for people to enjoy and consume content that they might not find elsewhere.”

In addition to the ABFF collection of films, Comcast sponsored an opportunity for ABFF to create new content, through a series called For the Love. Directed by three-time ABFF winner Alton Glass, the 4-5 minute segments feature stars such as: Eric LaSalle, Mara Brock Akil, Salim Akil, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Robert Townsend, Chris Spencer and Elise Neal. This series will be available for free to Xfinity TV customers via Xfinity On Demand and will also be accessible for free to all consumers via Xfinity’s Celebrate Black TV website for the month of February. ”We also get the opportunity to help support the creation of content and conversations around the importance of black storytelling and use the power of our platform in over 21 million homes,” says Boyd.

“I salute Comcast Xfinity in its commitment to providing this platform for black artists and storytellers. I am grateful for the opportunity to showcase compelling films that premiere at the American Black Film Festival to a broader national audience,” stated Jeff Friday, ABFF founder.

The new destination will be accessible to all Xfinity TV subscribers from the main menu of Xfinity On Demand, and will feature a range of TV collections highlighting shows with “Black Lead Actors and Full Cast,” “Reality Shows,” “Talk Shows & Clips”; a variety of movie collections such as “Faith & Family,” “Comedies,”  “Documentaries” and “Films By Black Directors”; plus music categories including “Hip-Hop,” “R&B Soul,” and “Reggae.” The Xfinity On Demand destination also offers quick and easy access to networks like BET and TV One. Throughout the month, Xfinity will also offer several other short-term collections of programming for Black History Month, including:

  • A selection of films curated by ABFF, including independent films that have been shown at ABFF, such as Comeback Dad, The Night Before, All About You, Womack and Raising Izzie.
  • A collection of “true story” films, all of which are rooted in historic events and real stories, including Glory, Selma, Malcolm X, Hotel Rwanda, Pride, Lean on Me, Ray and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
  • A special spotlight section on Spike Lee—who received an honorary Oscar for his body of work last fall—featuring a selection of his popular and memorable films.
  • A collection of Whoopi Goldberg films highlighting her iconic roles from drama to comedy.
  • Created by Comcast, His Dream, Our Stories is an unprecedented collection of personal accounts from more than 100 civic leaders, elders, clergy, and activists about the civil rights movement. In February 2015, Comcast updated the site with new interviews and an extended collection of videos that feature key moments in civil rights history. In partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative, this special programming features “Moments in Civil Rights History with D’Army Bailey“—a collection of historical events in the civil rights movement. Both collections are highly acclaimed and are on display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. and the National Civil Rights Museum.

All programming will be accessible from the “Black History Month” folder under the Xfinity On Demand main menu.

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,, and

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.

#OscarsSoWhite Picking Up Steam

2016 Oscars-screen shot


Over the last few days, more and more public figures and celebrities have publicly agreed that the Oscars are indeed ‘so white.’ Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee were among the first black actors to publicly express their displeasure at the lack of diversity among the nominees and share their decision to not attend this year’s event. Rev. Al Sharpton, political commentator and founder and president of National Action Network, expressed similar views when he remarked, “Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher up you get the whiter it gets. And this year’s Academy Awards will be yet another Rocky Mountain Oscars. Yet again, deserving black actors and directors were ignored by the Academy — which reinforces the fact that there are few if any blacks with real power in Hollywood.”

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

Recently, George Clooney, a prominent white actor, remarked that the Oscars seem to be getting whiter as the years progress. “If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job,” he told “We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.”

This year’s nominees were announced on January 14 and #OscarsSoWhite began trending immediately. The hashtag was created by April Reign, the managing editor of after last year’s Oscar nominees were announced. Reign says she was disappointed but not surprised at the lack of nominee diversity once again. “It’s unfortunate. Although Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has attempted to make some changes with respect to diversity by inviting over 300 new members into the Academy last year, those changes did not reflect a difference with respect to how films are nominated and how people are celebrated for their achievements.”

[RELATED: Black Filmmakers Need Blockbuster Opportunities]

Reign went on to say that “this is not a question of tokenism. #OscarsSoWhite is not about having a person of color nominated in every category. It’s about ensuring that quality work is being made that reflects all of American society, and then letting the chips fall where they may and nominating the best performances.”

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African American, was first elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in July 2013 and was re-elected president in August 2014. She released a statement earlier this week saying she was “both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion.”

“In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond,” Isaacs said. “We have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly.”

African American comedian Chris Rock is scheduled to host the 2016 Oscars on February 28, 2016. Outside of Tweeting earlier this week that it was “The White #BET Awards,” Rock hasn’t said much publicly. Pinkett Smith and Lee openly supported Rock’s hosting of the event; however, actor Tyrese and rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson recently called for Rock to join the boycott and not host the event.  Jackson Instagrammed: “Chris please do not do the Oscars awards. You mean a lot man, don’t do it. Please.”

Jeff Friday, founder and president of American Black Film Festival (ABFF), shared his thoughts about the lack of diversity in Hollywood as a whole in a Facebook chat.

#OscarsSoWhite – Talking Oscar snubs with Black Enterprise Partner Jeff Friday, founder of The American Black Film Festival #ABFFHonors

Posted by Black Enterprise on Thursday, January 14, 2016

What are your thoughts? Do you think Rock should refuse to host the Oscars? Black Enterprise will continue to cover developments around #OscarsSoWhite between now and February 28, when the event airs.

Star Wars: 7 Black Characters You Should Know

Today, on Dec. 18, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh installment in the main Star Wars film series, was released in theaters. The first film in the sequel trilogy is set approximately 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. The Force Awakens follows new leads, alongside characters from past installments.

[RELATED: [VIDEO] Today Is Star Wars Day: May The Fourth Be With You]

With Disney backing the film, and two sequels already scheduled for May 26, 2017 and 2019, respectively, The Force Awakens is projected to break box office records with profits exceeding $1 billion. With all the Star Wars talk in the news and among filmmakers, created a slideshow of five black main characters from various Star Wars films.

1. Samuel L. Jackson

Film: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1999

Character: Mace Windu

Morris Chestnut Talks ‘Rosewood’ and the Key to Longevity in Hollywood


ROSEWOOD: Morris Chestnut as Beaumont Rosewood, Jr. in ROSEWOOD premiering Wednesday, September 23 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Justin Stephens/FOX.

(Source: Morris Chestnut)

Morris Chestnut first won us over in his starring role as Ricky in the 1991 film Boyz in the Hood. Since then, he has remained a constant name in Hollywood with lead roles in hit films like The Best Man and its sequel, Two Can Play that Game and Not Easily Broken, to name a few. His most recent film, The Perfect Guy, with Sanaa Lathan and Michael Ealy, earned the No. 1 spot at the box office its opening weekend, raking in an estimated $26.7 million.

[RELATED: Lathan, Ealy and Chestnut Star in The Perfect Guy]

“The opportunity to be able to do what I do and do it to a certain level, in large part, is because of my fans,” the 46-year-old actor tells “Whenever I do a project my fans come out and support, whether it’s a show, play or movie. They come out and support me every time and they show the industry that they still believe in me.”

With the support of his unwavering fans by his side, Chestnut is stepping outside of the film world to test the waters in his first leading television role in Fox network’s new show, Rosewood. Playing the character of a charismatic pathologist name Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, Chestnut says that the television opportunity literally fell in his lap.

“I was doing another show for the same production and they sent me a script and said we want you on this show. Will you consider doing this pilot,” said Chestnut. “I read the script and after the first scene I was into it. It was a smart and funny character, and so they made it happen.”

Giving insight into how the television business works, Chestnut says that while Rosewood is a Fox network show produced by Fox studios, there are times where two separate networks and studios will work on the same show.

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Lathan, Ealy and Chestnut Star in The Perfect Guy

Imagine this: You’re a single woman looking for love and companionship. So far, your prospects have been looking dim to the point that you wish you could’ve made things work with your ex. After a few pointless dates, a handsome, affectionate, ultra-sexy man appears in your life—romancing you, getting to know your family, painting the picture that he’s the perfect guy. Then all of a sudden, he snaps and turns into a nightmare. He stalks you, plays mental and emotional games with you and makes you feel trapped in a seemingly never-ending haze of fear and confusion. How on earth did this happen to you? In fact, how do you get out of this situation?

[RELATED: [OPINION] Director F. Gary Gray Nails it with N.W.A. Biopic]

This is the premise of the late summer release, “The Perfect Guy,” which was executive produced by Sanaa Lathan, and stars Lathan, Morris Chestnut, and Michael Ealy. The movie takes you on a whirlwind of emotions, first making you empathize with Lathan’s character, Leah and her quest to find love after a premature breakup with Dave (Chestnut) who seemed like the man she’d marry. Then of course, you loathe Dave and label him as the “bad guy” for breaking Leah’s heart (despite remaining undeniably sexy).  And like a knight in shining armor, Carter (Ealy) rescues Leah from her pitiful dates and passionately captures her heart. Within the first 30 minutes, you’ve experienced heartache, anger, disappointment, hope and seduction—and you’ve barely made it through your popcorn! Carter’s personality takes a turn for the worse—making some of our worst dates seem like walks in the park compared to his irrational, violent, and disturbing behavior toward a woman he seemed to worship. There are so many climatic moments including the ones that make you want to passionately cuddle with your man and the ones that have you throwing air punches trying to defend and protect Leah from Carter’s wrath.

How could a relationship turn out to be so terrible when it starts off hitting all of the right notes? Chestnut answers it best, “There’s no perfect guy or woman. Relationships are situations that you have to admire and respect [to make them work].” Chestnut, a veteran actor, has been the hero in many romantic movies including Think Like a Man, The Best Man and “The Best Man Holiday” just to name a few. His character in “The Perfect Guy” shows us that looking for love doesn’t mean that you’ll get all of your ideal characteristics met, but there are some sacrifices that are worth much more than others.

This star-studded cast has brought urban drama/suspense to a new level by delivering noteworthy performances, making us think differently about the characters we thought they’d portray versus who they really were and answering our questions about the perfect guy. We can look forward to seeing more of the cast in upcoming releases including Chestnut’s new TV series on Fox, Rosewood, and a new thriller, “When the Bough Breaks” slated for an April 2016 release. There are talks about reuniting the cast of the hit “The Best Man” for “The Best Man Wedding”, but we’ll just have to wait and see.  Lathan is set to appear in an upcoming film “Now You See Me: The Second Act” (2016) and Michael Ealy will appear in a new TV series “Secrets and Lies” (2016).

Grab your ticket for “The Perfect Guy,” now playing in a theater near you!