EXCLUSIVE: Selma director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo will serve this year as the ambassadors for the Urbanworld Film Festival which takes place September 21-25 in New York. The festival, launched in August 1997 by a former Miramax and October Films executive Stacy Spikes, features features, documentaries, short films, spotlight screenings and live staged screenplay readings. This year, the AMC Empire on 42nd Street will host the feature screenings. Also this year, Revolt is the presenting partner along with founding partner HBO.

Others putting their support behind the Festival include prestige partner BET Networks, premiere partners Comcast NBCUniversal, Africa Creative Agency, Fox Audience Strategy and Time Warner. Industry partner supporters are AMC Independent, the DGA, MoviePass, Urban Movie Channel and the WGA/East.

Duvernay, whose documentary The 13th will open the New York Film Festival next month, was winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s Best Director Prize, the 2013 John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award and the Tribeca Institute’s 2013 Affinity Award for feature Middle Of Nowhere. She is also the founder of Array, a community-based distribution company dedicated to the amplification of films by people of color and women filmmakers.

“I am honored to be one of this year’s Urbanworld ambassadors for the festival’s 20th anniversary, joining my friend David Oyelowo,” she said. “I have always had a special relationship with Urbanworld, back to my days as a festival publicist to previewing my earlier films and now as an ambassador.”

Oyelowo, who is filming the JJ Abrams-produced sci-fi thriller God Particle opposite Gugu Mbatha-Raw, just recently wrapped production on the untitled Nash Edgerton movie with Charlize Theron and Amanda Seyfried. Next month, Mira Nair’s Queen Of Katwe (which he stars in opposite Lupita Nyong’o) will be released by Disney.