For nearly 30 years, the American Black Film Festival, also known as ABFF, has helped catapult some of your favorite Hollywood stars' careers. From super producer Will Packer to helping launch the success of the iconic movie Love Jones, Jeff and Nicole Friday have taken on the mission to be a beacon of light for Black Hollywood.
The American Black Film Festival is an annual event dedicated to recognizing Black talent and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. Dedicated to the belief that diverse artists deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts, now in its 27th year, the festival has become a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood, providing a platform for emerging Black artists — many of whom have become today’s most successful actors, producers, writers, directors and stand-up comedians.
The Quintessential Gentleman was honored to cover this year's festivities, which included key highlights throughout the "family reunion."
Lena Waithe was this year's ABFF ambassador. Waithe, and Nice Crowd (formerly ABFF ventures) President & COO, Nicole Friday, kicked off the night with welcome speeches to ring in this year’s festival. The kickoff comes on the heels of the exciting announcement of the group’s expansion into new event offerings under the Nice Crowd banner. Netflix’s satirical conspiracy caper film They Cloned Tyrone premiered and attendees included Juel Taylor, Teyonah Parris, John Boyega, Charles King, Terrence J., Tabitha Brown, Chance Brown, Kym Whitley, Donkmaster and Mayor Dan Gelber.
Waithe continued her hosting duties as she was given flowers for her polarizing career by way of the Lena Waithe Effect Panel where she discussed the importance of understanding where you come from and staying true to your path forward. In an interview with The Quintessential Gentleman, the Emmy award-winning writer talked about why mentorship was important for her and her career.
The legendary Gabrielle Union was in town not only to support her latest Netflix film, The Perfect Find but to also celebrate her BET+ docu-series, My Journey to 50. The project shows Union turning 50 and embarking on an adventure through Africa where she gets in touch with her roots and experiences the birthday bash of a lifetime with her loved ones.
Panels ranged from mental healthcare featuring the one and only Taraji P. Henson. During the panel she expressed the importance of mental health and her new initiative, She Care Pods. “In partnership with Pfizer, we created She Care Pods to encourage students and young people everywhere to unplug from their devices. The Pods provide free therapy, and meditation, and facilitate human interaction.”
Bringing Black stories to the forefront, director Malcolm D. Lee, Morris Chestnut and Larenz Tate spoke on their experiences with Black fatherhood. Chestnut said, “Parenting can be very difficult but it is the best thing that has happened to me, you try to find a little bit of who you are in them and you grow together.” Tate added, “I’m a true believer that your kids are here to teach you lessons, I’m learning a lot from them and they make me a better father.”
Trell Thomas' Black Excellence Brunch took over ABFF with an intimate celebration that saw the likes of Bevy Smith, Suranas Jackson, Keith Powers, John Boyega, Melvin Gregg and more. Thomas moderated a panel with directors Numa Perrier (The Perfect Find) and Juel Taylor (They Cloned Tyrone). The two shared their experiences in Hollywood as they are on the verge of their big breaks.
As the ABFF team is already gearing up for another year of highlighting Black talent in Hollywood, the mission continues to stay the same. We will continue to go where we are celebrated and not just tolerated.