The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) celebrated advancements in Black and POC Hollywood at its 5th annual AAFCA Special Achievement Awards Luncheon at the California Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey, California. Among those celebrated include Black Panther costume designer Ruth Carter, Outlier Society Head of Production Alana Mayo, Senior Vice President of Talent Development for HBO Kelly Edwards, New York Times critic Wesley Morris, Vice President of Original Film for Netflix Tendo Nagenda, jazz legend Buddy Bolden and Crazy Rich Asians’ filmmaking team including director Jon M. Chu.
The Luncheon’s guests of honor received awards highlighting their works of excellence. Carter won the Nissan Innovator Award for her years of costume design work in film. Edwards won the Salute to Excellence Award for, as AAFCA co-founder and President Gil Robertson said of Edwards, “providing a pipeline of opportunity for emerging voices in film and television.”
The Horizon Award, which “spotlights and celebrates a young executive who is on the rise,” was given to Mayo due to her work with Michael B. Jordan’s production company, Outlier Society, as well as her work with Paramount Pictures as vice president of production and with Vimeo as vice president of originals.
Morris received the Roger Ebert Award for his criticism and exploration of film, and Nagenda was given the Ashley Boone Award, an award named after Boone, who was a pioneering presence in Hollywood. Bolden posthumously received the Pioneer Award for originating jazz music. His life will be highlighted in the upcoming film Bolden by Dan Pritzker. Rita Bell, Bolden’s great-granddaughter, accepted the award on Bolden’s behalf.
The filmmaking team and cast of Crazy Rich Asians received the Game Changer Award for becoming the first film in 25 years to star an all-Asian cast. The film grossed $238 million worldwide and has been a part of the process of opening Hollywood up to more narratives from people of color. Chu accepted the award on behalf of the cast and crew.
Aside from the guests of honor, others in attendance included Lena Waithe, Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo and the AAFCA’s Robertson and fellow co-founder Shawn Edwards.
The AAFCA will hold its 10th Annual AAFCA Awards Wednesday at the Taglyan Complex in Los Angeles.