Leonardo DiCaprio perhaps pulled off the biggest surprise of the night at the 4th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Honors, which was held last night at the Beverly Hilton hotel. The Oscar-winning actor was on hand to present his Django Unchained co-star Jamie Foxx with Excellence in the Arts award.
“There is one defining characteristic about this man. I was sitting back thinking about what I was going to say about Jamie tonight and it’s a characteristic I was able to experience firsthand on the set of Django Unchained. Jamie brings out the very best in other people. He lifts up everyone around. You can see any social setting he’s in. He’s like a magnetic force in any room that he inhabits, and there is no one in this industry who pays positivity and encouragement forward the way Jamie Foxx does.”
Other honorees of the night included Louis Gossett Jr. who received Hollywood Legacy Award, Emmy winner Lena Waithe with the Industry Renaissance Award, Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo with the Rising Star Award, and HBO’s The Wire with the Classic Television Award.
“What makes it classic is that it speaks to our humanity than when it was filmed. Now it’s still relevant and years after we’re gone, it will still speak to our humanity because it was authentic and truthful, said co-star Wendell Pierce while onstage accepting the award. “What makes it truthful was the fact that we were telling specific stories and the more specific you are the more universal your story becomes.”
In addition, Warner Bros’ Just Mercy was named Movie of the Year at last night’s ceremony which was presented by another surprise guest, Morgan Freeman.
“I’ve worked with people who’ve been accused and convicted and condemned, who’ve been pushed down and been marginalized, who’ve been excluded and mistreated,” said Bryan Stevenson, the social justice activist and lawyer whom the film is based on. “But if this community is willing to do what you’ve done tonight, to lift them up in their stories, I believe we can actually turn some of those injuries into things that allow us to honor who we are.”
Black-ish/ Grown-ish star and comedian Deon Cole hosted the evening which celebrates Black culture and artists who have made distinguished contributions to the entertainment industry through their work or as champions of diversity and inclusion in Hollywood. ABFF Honors was put on by the entertainment company ABFF Ventures which is led by Jeff and Nicole Friday.