Ryan Coogler, Don Cheadle, Regina King, Among Honorees at The ABFF Awards 2016

The American Black Film Festival Awards took place on Sunday at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, and the scene could be heralded as the prime reason why #OscarsSoWhite is currently one of the most used and relevant hashtags of 2016.

Kerry Washington, Anthony Anderson and Octavia Spencer mingle backstage at the ABFF Awards


Jeff Friday who founded the organization back in 1997, was inspired after seeing a screening of the Nia Long/Larenz Tate starrer, Love Jones at Sundance. The great reception the film garnered from the mixed crowd encouraged Friday to create an outlet that would serve as the launching pad for projects that featured actors of color in independent films, as opposed to the stereotypical fare that normally dominates the market.

The annual festival (which will be held in Miami this June) has spent the past twenty years dedicated to giving props to excellence in black cinema and this year – the awards show will be televised as a special to air on BET and Centric on Tuesday.

BET has a committed slate when it comes to recognizing black talent as evident in the yearly festivities that include the BET Awards, BET Honors, and of course the very necessary Black Girls Rock entries, but film awards have never been part of the deal until now.

While speaking to the LA Times, Stephen Hill, president of programming at BET, expressed the fact that the network is ready to acknowledge the genre of film as part of its awards circuit – particularly since it is a big part of the community and clearly needs the support it hasn’t garnered from Hollywood at large.

“We want people to feel good about the culture, their performance, their body of work in some cases, just good about themselves”. “That’s what award shows are about and we’re always about celebrating great achievement – It’s not just great black achievement, it’s achievement”.

Some of TV and film’s brightest stars graced the red carpet and the evening progressed without a hitch as the impeccably talented were rewarded for their good work.

Creed director Ryan Coogler, mega-producer, Will Packer, and actors Don Cheadle and Regina King were all recognized for their outstanding work. Hollywood legend Diahann Carroll also received a special tribute for her years of contribution to the industry.

It was a memorable night that gave everyone in attendance more than enough to celebrate and aspire to.

Thankfully you won’t have to wait too long to catch the festivities which will air Feb. 23 at 8 pm on BET and Centric.