On February 23, the American Black Film Festival will honor two incredible talents of screen storytelling. Legendary actor Louis Gossett, Jr. will receive the organization’s Hollywood Legacy Award for his lifetime achievements in the industry, and actor/writer/producer Lena Waithe will receive the Industry Renaissance Award for creating works that further create opportunities for other people of color. The ceremony will be hosted by comedian Deon Cole in Los Angeles.
“We’re honored to celebrate these two extraordinary talents,” said ABFF Ventures CEO Jeff Friday to Variety. “These awards not only recognize how Mr. Gossett’s contributions have propelled the industry forward but also acknowledge a new generation of trailblazers in people like Ms. Waithe, who will continue to create change and new opportunities in film and television for people of color.”
In 2019, Gossett starred in HBO’s critically acclaimed Watchmen. Before then, he was the first African-American to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1982’s An Officer and a Gentleman. He’s also performed in such acclaimed works as A Raisin in the Sun, Roots, Sadat, and Enemy Mine. Waithe’s 2019 involved writing and producing acclaimed film Queen & Slim and continuing her Showtime show The Chi. She’s the first African American woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for Master of None, and has created Hillman Grad Productions, a company aiming to tell more representative stories on screen. She’s also appeared in works like Ready Player One and the Netflix adaptation of Dear White People.
At the ceremony, the ABFF will also honor Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) with the Rising Star Award. They will also grant David Simon‘s The Wire with the Classic Television Award. After a dispiriting sense of moving backward in the awards show conversations with a mostly white male BAFTA crop of nominees and a DGA series of all-male directing nominees, it’s downright refreshing to hear about an awards ceremony dedicated to the important cause of inclusion and representation.