On Saturday, August 22, the 2nd Annual AAFCA TV Honors shined the spotlight on everyday frontline heroes, while recognizing artists for their talent. Hosted by actress and comedian Aida Rodriguez, this was a historical first for the AAFCA as the ceremony was completely virtual. However, the energy of compassion and celebration made it through the distance of the screen, exuding the hope that this year will shift into a better space soon.
The African American Film Critics Association standard mission is to focus on the paramount impact of talent within the collective community, but this year was different. There was a split platform; highlighting noted production, but there was acknowledgement of first responders from all over the nation.
The virtual award show emphasized the significant role first responders play in the recovery of social structure. Firefighters, nurses, police, public officials, and staff that support daily operations that keep the infrastructure running and contribute to the safety of others. The AAFCA highlighted those who have put their lives and energy on the line since COVID-19 took root. This viral pandemic unveiled intense truths about society, one of them is that the spirit of humility is still present.
The show carried a light and airy atmosphere as Rodriguez navigated the virtual handout of accolades. She showered the honorees with compliments and words of encouragement as each category was presented.
This virtual celebration was made possible through the sponsorship of Morgan Stanley. The award categories included: TV Icon, Inclusion Award, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Drama, Best Comedy, Best TV Movie, Breakout Performers, Best YA, Best Animated, Best Documentary, and Best Short film. A range of front-line essential workers joined celebrities including John Legend, Rashida Jones, and William Jackson Harper to hand out 11 awards and two honorary awards. A portion of the proceeds from the event has goes to the National Association of Black Journalists’ COVID-19 Relief fund.
Diverse areas of concern were covered in the event such as equality, justice and transgender rights. All sections of the community are calling for protection as the battle for justice progresses. Visual creator and writer Janet Mock went into more detail about the extensive support every person needs during this time.
“It is an honor to take part in a celebration that centers our words, our truths, our images, and our stories,” said Mock. Winner of the AAFCA ADCOLOR Breakout Creative Award, Mock expressed the significance in her existence in this field as a transwoman and how it affects the entire community. “I also know that as we continue to struggle for Black people, we must also include Black trans people, Black queer people, Black disabled people, all of the Black people, my people.”
The AAFCA Award created a space where art is recognized in all genres, winning Best TV Movie was Lifetimes’ “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel.” The acceptance began with musical producer, Donald Lawrence, taking in the title with gratitude, this film was the first film Lawrence did all the music for. He expressed his honor in the celebration; he gave credit to the overall production and the happiness in working with such a A-list team of actors, directors, and film staff.
Lawrence was accompanied by Director Christine Swanson and TV Producer Holly Carter. Each of them expressed their honor in receiving such a high recognition for the film.
The winner of Best Actress was Viola Davis in ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder.” Davis accepted the award graciously and had impactful words to share, “The word that comes to mind in receiving this award is grateful. I am eternally grateful for the six years that I had on ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ and created a character that meant so much to so many people, but especially to my people.” Davis went on to share her joy in receiving this title. She expressed that she is trying to the best of her ability to be the representation that reflects the elegance of the collective community.
Other winners include Sterling K. Brown as Best Actor in NBC’s “This is Us,” Best Comedy was given to HBO’s “Insecure,” and Jeremy Pope and Laura Harrier won Best Breakout Performers in Netflix’s “Hollywood.” There were so many phenomenal projects, the winners for each category had iconic competition. The last accolade on the table was the TV Icon Award. This was given to the Writer of the hit TV Series “Blackish,” Kenya Barris.
Barris joined AAFCA through his screen and sat in shock of winning such a high honor. He stated, “So many thoughts and questions come to my mind like ‘how old do these people actually think I am and do they have a different meaning of Icon than I do?’” Barris shared his view of this moment being amazing, but he acknowledges that the Black community are living through a lot of pain. He went into detail on how healing it is to receive this acknowledgement during this time from AAFCA, that he referred to as family.
Closing remarks came from President/CEO of AAFCA Gil Robertson and TV critic Eric Deggans. Robertson disclosed that this would not have been possible without the talent of Deggans. Robertson described Deggans as a trailblazer and pioneer. The feeling of hope and a bright future was captured through each award selection. Although the big screen talent were uplifted and celebrated, AAFCA made an impactful statement by merging the gratitude for the everyday heroes found on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.