Photo by Jason Kempin/BET/Getty Images for BET
Photo by Jason Kempin/BET/Getty Images for BET
Photo by Jason Kempin/BET/Getty Images for BET

What was once a vision to promote diversity in Hollywood film and television has now become a reality and one of the largest and most prominent film festivals in the entertainment industry. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, The 2016 ABFF Awards: A Celebration of Hollywood aired on BET Tuesday evening honoring and celebrating extraordinary talent and people of color in film and television. The show was hosted by actor and comedian Mike Epps.

 Credit: Instagram @americanblackfilmfestival
Credit: Instagram @americanblackfilmfestival

Hollywood Actor and Actress Don Cheadle and Regina King were both recipients of The 2016 ABFF Excellence In The Arts Award.

The most important accomplishment in my life is being a mother and when I think about the support I’ve received in my career I think about how Black lives matter. Black lives need to matter to black people. I love you, we love you, and you matter,” Regina King said during her acceptance speech.

While Cheadle noted in his speech that he hopes to soon see a change with the diversity in the entertainment industry. ‘‘I believe we are going to see a water shed moment where we’re not talking about what this one looks like or what that one looks like. We’re just talking about stories and entertainment and we all have a voice and be heard.

 Credit: Instagram @americanblackfilmfestival
Credit: Instagram @americanblackfilmfestival

Film producer and director Will Packard, who is well known for his incredible box office flicks, was the honoree and recipient of the ABFF Alumni Achievement Award.  He also paid homage to ABFF who paved the way for his film career.

Sundance wasn’t interested in my movies. The Toronto International Film Festival wasn’t interested. Even if they had said yes, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to get to Cannes,” Packard said. “But there was a film festival led by Jeff Friday and his leadership team that welcomed me with open arms. They unashamedly said we are going to embrace the next generation of filmmakers, actors, directors, producers of color. All I needed was a chance and somebody who would show my films, put me in the right room – someone who would give me that opportunity that I couldn’t get elsewhere.”

Also receiving an ABFF award for Rising Star of 2016 was director and film maker Ryan Coogler for his movie projects Fruitvale Station and Creed.

 Credit: Instagram @americanblackfilmfestival
Credit: Instagram @americanblackfilmfestival

Actress and trailblazer Diahann Carroll, recipient of the ABFF Hollywood Legend Award, was honored with a monologue tribute of her work, ‘The Legs Are the Last to Go,” performed by Keke Palmer, Loretta Divine and Kerry Washington.

 Credit: Instagram @americanblackfilmfestival
Credit: Instagram @americanblackfilmfestival

I only knew I felt strongly about something and whatever it is you feel strongly about you should do it. Try it. There’s only one trip. You don’t get a return trip.” Carroll said during her acceptance speech.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

And even though there is still diversity in Hollywood, Founder of ABFF, Jeff Friday, makes sure that he continuously shines light on black people in the industry.

Hollywood feels like a private party and if you’re not on the list, it’s very difficult to penetrate that velvet rope,” Friday said. “I’m very encouraged that Hollywood will step up to the plate. It’s not about segregation, but celebration. These honorees have earned the right to be recognized and not overlooked.

Congratulations to all the winners and recipients on your awards!

By Tiffany Hercules

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