The 2023 AAFCA Awards will give black filmmakers a moment to be heard

Winners Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Danielle Deadwyler and more talked about finding the humanity in the roles — and finding an audience for black stories.

Awards season gives many stars a chance to see and be seen, but the honorees at this year’s African American Critics Association Awards — many of whom were within reach of an Oscar nomination — felt heard and recognized.

Angela Bassett at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire hotel to accept the award for Best Supporting Actress, the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” star acknowledged her current Oscar nominations, saying, “During awards season, I’ve often been asked what these nominations mean. and awards mean that to me. A lot of people don’t realize that even though I’ve been able to work quite a lot, I’ve been a candidate for 29 years now.”

Listening to the awards season chatter, many attribute Bassett’s losses at the BAFTA Awards and SAG Awards — after winning Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards — in part to the perception that she’s already an Oscar winner. on tour. Tina Turner’s role in What’s Love Got To Do With It? in the movie.

“Thank God for Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King,” the actress said, listing other roles that would have earned her award nominations by today’s standards. But even though more than a handful of black actresses have won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar over the decades, there are still plenty of black Hollywood icons who have never been recognized.

“Thanks to giants like Rosalind Cash, Ruby Dee, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson. Their resilience gave me hope and what I needed to keep going, to keep pushing, no matter the adversity, no matter the uncertainty, no matter the doubt,” Bassett said, highlighting some of the actresses who have broken new ground for Black. performers, none of whom are Oscar winners. “Even today, as I stand on their broad and bold ancient shoulders, I thank them for their sacrifice, their willingness to stand up where they were most likely told to stand back. Their courage in defying the limitations of the representation of black womanhood to create a new paradigm of what it meant to be a black actress in Hollywood.”

Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, Cathy Schulman

Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, Cathy Schulman at the 14th Annual African American Film Critics Awards.

Sherry Determan

Viola Davis, who won best picture for “The Woman King,” shared a similar sentiment, saying she hopes her acting legacy will expand the reach of black stories. “I understand that any story that’s told with black people, we all want to be strong. We all want to take beautiful pictures. But I think the bravest thing we can do is to show pictures that are also not so pretty. Because by showing these images, we’re saying that we’re part of the human family,” said the Oscar winner, lightly touching on the controversy surrounding the Atlantic slave trade in the historical epic. “Our job, as always, is to show who we are in our private lives. We must continue to do this. We must continue to be messy. I feel like it’s my privilege for life to be messy and beautifully messy.”

“Till” star Danielle Deadwyler, whose Oscar win sparked plenty of controversy, also encouraged moviegoers not to give a movie a chance just because of its challenging subject matter in her AAFCA Best Actress acceptance speech. “It cannot be repeated enough that the forces that seek to exclude our work, the fingerprints of our hands in this place, still exist. They are toxic, old and tired in their infection tactics, yet we are (their antidote),” Deadwyler said. “We watch horror films with the encouragement of a caring critic and continue to share them.”

The special Beacon Award show also featured Will Smith, along with “Emancipation” director Antoine Fuqua. While he refrained from making any explicit references to his post-slap year, he did talk about Fuqua and the Apple TV+ studio exceeding his expectations. “It was the first time I heard from a studio, ‘The story is more important than how much it costs to make it,'” he said, before hammering home the point. “So then we added a few more things that we wanted to do — they make iPhones, they can do it.”

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