An impressive cadre of A-list celebrities and powerhouse executives came together in the center of Hollywood for the AAFCA Awards – an awards gala that adds a distinctive brand of exuberance to awards season. Produced by the African American Film Critics Association the 5th year installment brought out Oscar-winners Forest Whitaker and Louis Gossett, Jr., who mingled with AMPAS President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs; DGA President Paris Barclay; TV mogul Shondra Rhimes; Fox Searchlight executive Zola Mashariki; Oscar nominated producer Reggie Hudlin; Sundance Award winning director, Ava DuVernay and top entertainment attorney Nina Shaw, among other top industry luminaries. Hosted by actors Orlando Jones (“Sleepy Hollow”) and actress Salli Richardson-Whitfield, the event in addition to bestowing awards to winners in 12 traditional categories, also highlighted the great strides made by the industry towards diversity and inclusion with awards given out to Boone Isaacs, Barclay, Bob and Harvey Weinstein and journalist Justin Chang, who received the organization’s inaugural Roger Ebert Award. Mashariki was also recognized by the organization with the Ashley Boone Award, which is named after one of the first African American studio executives.
Highlights of the evening included the aforementioned honor to Mashariki, who was presented the award by film director Robert Townsend and directing juggernaut Shonda Rhimes, who shared fond memories of her friendship with the honoree that began in college. Other notable moments included the acceptance speeches by Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler who was joined on stage by two of the film’s producers (Forest Whitaker and (Nina Yang Bongiovi) ; Variety Film Editor Justin Chang who was presented the Roger Ebert Award by the late film critic’s step-daughter Sonia Evans, and from Boone-Isaacs and Barclay who along with the Weinstein’s were recipients of AAFCA’s Special Achievement honors.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome of this year’s show,” says Gil Robertson, AAFCA president and co-founder. “Our goal with this event is to provide our guests with an opportunity to mix, mingle and celebrate the tremendous gifts that the film industry gives to the world.”