The streaming giant Netflix continued its award-winning streak receiving the association’s Vanguard Award. Described as a “game changer” by director Ava DuVernay, Netflix has created content from Africa, Asia and Latin America and the on-demand streaming entertainment company is one of the most dominant players in the industry with a vast library of movies and TV series and 204 million paid memberships in over 190 countries.
“This award belongs to the incredible storytellers who have entrusted us to bring their films and shows to the world,” said Scott Stuber, Head of original films at Netflix. “Strong black lead isn’t just a marketing slogan for Netflix, we want to expand culture and remove the barriers that have historically existed in our industry. We want to have films where young people of all backgrounds can see heroes and recognize themselves on screen.”
Several films currently streaming on Netflix also received accolades including “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Da 5 Bloods” and “The Forty-Year-Old Version.”
The virtual event was co-hosted by comedian Tone Bell, J.B. Smoove, and actress Tichina Arnold. “It’s a little different in this virtual world,” said Ms. Arnold, who previously hosted the annual award show two years ago in Hollywood. “Our hearts and prayers go out to all who have lost loved ones to Covid, but it is entertainment that is getting us through these hard times.”
Presenters at the AAFCA awards included Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who presented the Best Supporting actress award to Dominique Fishback, for her role in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Sheryl Lee Ralph, who presented the Best Ensemble accolade to the cast of “One Night in Miami” and Brian Tyree Henry who presented the Breakout Performance accolade to Radha Blank for her comedy “The 40-Year-Old Version.”
“Representation is everything. This is a movie that is for us and it’s a movie that is by us, ” said Andra Day as she accepted her Best Actress winner for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in the movie “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” during the two-hour ceremony. Regina King expressed sincere gratitude to AAFCA for her “One Night in Miami” Best Director nod. “To be recognized means a lot and I appreciate you.”
AAFCA’s Innovator Award presented by Nissan went to Mariah Carey. “People may think diva, and I thought it too before I got to know her,” shared close friend Gayle King, one of the several celebrities, including Lee Daniels and Naomi Campbell, who shared sentimental stories about Carey before she received her award.
Viola Davis who received AAFCA’s Icon Award said she owed a huge part of her career to August Wilson, the American playwright who has been referred to as the “theater’s poet of Black America.” Davis has earned numerous awards for her starring roles in the big-screen adaptation of Wilson’s plays “Fences,” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
Lost legends Cicely Tyson who passed away in January and Chadwick Boseman were also remembered. “Playing opposite him is something I will never forget. He gave all he had every time he stepped in front of the camera,” shared Michael B. Jordan who played alongside Boseman in “Black Panther.”
Established in 2003, the Annual African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) is the premiere body of Black film critics in the world, actively reviewing film and television, with a particular emphasis on entertainment that includes the Black experience and storytellers from the African Diaspora.
Samantha Ofole-Prince is a Los Angeles based entertainment journalist who covers industry-specific news. Follow her on twitter @SamanthaOfole
Photos courtesy of AAFCA