“It’s an honor to be recognized as an innovator,” said music icon Mariah Carey, while accepting the Innovator Award at the 12th Annual African American Film Critics Association Awards, which took place virtually for a private audience.
“Because in my experience,” Carey continued, “when you have holes in your only pair of shoes and are existing on a dollar a day, choosing between food and a subway ride — when you are the only one who believes in your vision for yourself, you better get to innovating.”
Oscar-winner Viola Davis was bestowed with the organization’s Icon Award and confessed that she sometimes struggles with feeling worthy of being lauded.
“My acceptance of any of this praise is equal to my absolute just passion to leave a legacy. A legacy for brown-skin girls just like me who were told that they were invisible.”
She added, “I have been blessed and fortunate in every single way to be able to literally give you all the human beings, the Black and brown human beings that I’ve embodied and to give them to you and to help you to feel less alone through their stories… I will continue to leave a legacy of hope, of life, of humor, of pathos, of humanity for as long as God will have me here.”
Davis was honored along with her Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom co-star, the late Chadwick Boseman, as well as director George C. Wolfe, who received the Salute To Excellence Award.
“History is not just a place of pain but history is a place of power,” said Wolfe. “When we tell those stories, not only are the people who are involved in the creation of those stories empowered but hopefully the audience will [be] as well.”
Tichina Arnold, J.B. Smoove, and Tone Bell hosted the special event, which featured previously announced honorees including Regina King, Kemp Powers and the One Night In Miami ensemble cast, The United States vs. Billie Holiday star and Oscar nominee Andra Day, as well as the team from this year’s Best Film selection Judas and the Black Messiah.
The team behind voter suppression documentary, All In: The Fight for Democracy, were double winners, taking the award for Best Documentary as well as the Stanley Kramer Social Justice Award.
“The bold storytelling by Stanley Kramer shed a light on some of the world’s most important issues, which is what we aim to do with our film,” said doc subject Stacey Abrams, who was alongside directors Lisa Cortés and Liz Garbus. “Our goal in telling this story was to shed light on the issue of voter suppression, which has permeated our democracy since the genesis of this nation and unfortunately still exists today.”
Below is the list of winners. AAFCA will hold a public-facing viewing of the awards program on April 17 and 18 on The AAFCA Channel on Comcast/Xfinity.
Best Picture: Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.)
Best Director: Regina King, One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
Best Actor: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
Best Actress: Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Hulu)
Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.)
Best Supporting Actress: Dominique Fishback, Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.)
Best Screenplay: Kemp Powers, One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
Best Ensemble: One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
Best Foreign Film: Night of the Kings (Neon)
Best Documentary: All In: The Fight for Democracy (Amazon Studios)
Best Animation: Soul (Pixar/Disney)
Best Short Film: Two Distant Strangers
Breakout Performance: Radha Blank (Netflix)
Breakout Director: Shaka King (Warner Bros.)