5th Annual African Black Film Festival Honors Awards

Black Facts.com

Kerry Washington, Janelle Monae, Charles D. King, Courtney B. Vance and Acclaimed Film Eve’s Bayou Honored.

 BY Jessica L. Dupree

Photos By Craig Dewey Stanley

This past Sunday, the 5th Annual ABFF Honors took place at the 1 Hotel in West Hollywood, paying tribute to artists like Kerry Washington who received the Excellence in The Arts Award, Janelle Monae who received The Renaissance Award, Charles D. King who received The Industry Leadership Award, Coutney B. Vance who received The Excellence in The Arts Award, and acclaimed film Eve’s Bayou which received The Classic Cinema Award.

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) has showcased Black culture, creativity, and achievement for 27 years. The festival has been unapologetic in their determination to challenge Hollywood by presenting visionary filmmakers, remarkable stories and extraordinary artists who are diversifying and ultimately transforming the industry.

Executive Produced by Jeff and Nicole Friday, the ABFF Honors raised glasses, extended hands, and celebrated Black Hollywood with class, grace, and excellence. Heart & Soul Magazine spoke with Eve’s Bayou cast mates Roger Smith and Victoria Rowell as well as Excellence in The Arts Award Honoree Courtney B. Vance on the red carpet who opened up about Black representation and why storytelling at its core will always come back to matters of love.

There are times when it’s just not me and I have to know who I am so I know I don’t step outside. I mean I really like what Luther Vandross did – he talked about love, he sang about love. People were doing hip hop and all kinds of things with different kinds of music and genres but Luther stayed true to himself and eventually the world came right back around because baby it’s all about love. All the songs, all the plays and all the poems – it’s all about love. Angie and I are really about telling great stories about who we are and ultimately it really is about love and the stories that we want to tell are the people who feel that they’re less than, they’ve been told that they’re less than and they’re still looking for love, he said.

The Tony Award winning Yale School of Drama graduate has also received various accolades, including two Primetime Emmy Awards and has been nominated for a Grammy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award. Vance starred in the original productions of August Wilson’s Fences in 1985. Vance acted in films Hamburger Hill, The Hunt for Red October, The Preacher’s Wife, Cookie’s Fortune, Terminator, Genisys, and Isle of the Dogs. His work in TV includes notable shows like Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The People v. O.J. Simpson, and Lovecraft Country.

I look for things that speak to me, sometimes they speak to me and they’re completely different from what I do. Sometimes they’re, I’m in legal circles a lot because I can do that, I know that world. Sometimes I need to walk away from that and say I’ll do something different. I can’t remember anyone specifically but we’ve done it, we’ve a lot of times we’ve turned down more than we’ve done, sometimes it’s just not time to do that role of two.

Vance’s children Bronwyn Golden and Slayer Josiah told Heart & Soul that their parents instilled in them to work their hardest to get where they want to be in life and that there is no substitute for hard work.

Vance with children Bronwyn Golden and Slayer Josiah

We’ve learned throughout our whole lives about how hard our parents worked to get where they are and the history of how hard our parents have worked to get to where they are. I think that it’s so interesting and so amazing to see that he’s honoured tonight for everything that he’s done and how hard he’s worked to get where he’s gotten, to how much he’s provided to us and I’m just really happy for him, said Bronwyn Golden Vance.

“Just being able to see all the time and all effort come to fruition and a man who’s honourable as Courtney B. Vance to be awarded, it’s inspiring. Especially since he’s our father and all the pride he instilled in us and everything he gives to us – to be recognized for that is truly wonderful,” Slater Josiah Vance added.

Victoria Rowell, who played Stevie Hobbs in Eve’s Bayou recalled being a part of the short which was called Mr. Hugo, after Sam Jackson’s character,  at USC and being up for hours on end. After making the short they received the funding to make the independent film. “We were in it to win it! The whole process was magical and we knew that we were making something special,” Rowell told Heart & Soul.

Eve’s Bayou co-star Roger Guenveur Smith who played Lenny Mereaux in the film told Heart & Soul, “I think that it stood the test of time, continues to resonate, and in really strong ways. And I think it kicked off a really interesting moment of independent film making some 25 years ago.”  

“I want to see us continuing to work together with diligence, with intelligence, and with a lot of fun. Because this thing that we do is not just a business, it’s something that we should enjoy and it’s a great blessing to be able to do something that we do enjoy,” Smith added.

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