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.