Lena Waithe, Tendo Nagenda (VP, Original Film at Netflix, recipient of the Ashley Boone Award, Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo) (Photo by Sheri Determan)

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) handed out awards to seven outstanding individuals representing the best of the entertainment industry at the organization’s fifth annual AAFCA Special Achievement Awards luncheon at the California Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey.  The intimate affair was filled to capacity with a guest list that included Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo and Lena Waithe, among many others.  The event was presided over by AAFCA co-founders Gil Robertson and Shawn Edwards.

AAFCA, the premier group of Black film critics in the world, will next celebrate its AAFCA Award winners at the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards being held Feb. 6 at the Taglyan Complex, capping off a week of awards season activities that coincide with the launch of Black History Month each February.



Ruth Carter — Nissan Innovator Award

Costume Designer

Prolific costume designer Ruth Carter has designed over 50 feature films and just recently received her third Oscar® nomination for her work in ‘Black Panther.’  Her vast and celebrated resume includes “Amistad,” “Selma,” “Malcolm X,” “School Daze,” “The Butler,” “Shaft” and “Do The Right Thing,” among many others. She won an Emmy® in 2016 for the television remake of “Roots.”   The Innovator award is presented to an outstanding talent who has made their mark in entertainment.

AAFCA Co-Founders Shawn Edwards and Gil Robertson with Chaz Ebert, wife of the late Roger Ebert, after whom the Roger Ebert Award is named. (Photo by Sheri Determan)

Crazy Rich Asians — Game Changer Award

Presented to the filmmaking team and cast of the hit film, “Crazy Rich Asians” is being honored for their massive achievement that turned ‘the little film that could’ to ‘the little film that did.’ Helmed by Jon M. Chu, who accepted the honor on behalf of the “Crazy Rich Asians” team, the film featured the first all Asian cast in 25 years, received critical acclaim and has made over $238 million worldwide.  A true game changer.

Kelly Edwards — Salute to Excellence Award

Senior Vice President of Talent Development, HBO

“She’s made a career of providing a pipeline of opportunity for emerging voices in film and television.” – Gil Robertson, AAFCA co-founder and president

Kelly Edwards (Salute to Excellence honoree), Shawn Edwards (co-founder of AAFCA), Tendo Nagenda (Ashley Boone Award honoree), Gil Robertson (co-founder and president of AAFCA), Wesley Morris (Roger Ebert Award recipient), Chaz Ebert (presenter of the Roger Ebert Award), Alana Mayo (Horizon Award recipient), Rita Bell (great granddaughter of Buddy Bolden who accepted the Pioneer Award on behalf of the late Buddy Bolden), Jon M. Chu (recipient of the Game Changer Award for “Crazy Rich Asians”) (Photo by Sheri Determan)

Alana Mayo — Horizon Award

Head of Production, Outlier Society

The Horizon Award spotlights and celebrates a young executive, who is on the rise.  Prior to joining Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society as head of production, Mayo served as vice president of production at Paramount Pictures and vice president of originals at Vimeo.

Wesley Morris — Roger Ebert Award

Critic-at-Large, New York Times

Morris won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize while working at the Boston Globe and continued his career at Grantland before joining the New York Times.  The Roger Ebert Award is named after prominent film critic Roger Ebert, who used his platform to promote and recognize diverse filmmakers long before it was popular to do so.

Ruth Carter was honored with the Innovator Award for her prolific career as a costume designer, culminating most recently with her third Oscar® nomination for her work on BLACK PANTHER. (Photo by Sheri Determan)

Tendo Nagenda — Ashley Boone Award

Vice President of Original Film, Netflix

Named after the trailblazing studio executive Ashley A. Boone, this award is presented to an executive who has distinguished himself within the industry with excellence.  Prior to joining Netflix, Nagenda spent many years at Disney as executive vice president of production and held positions at Warner Independent and Plan B Entertainment.

Buddy Bolden — Pioneer Award

Pioneering jazz legend, known as the originator of jazz music.

The inaugural Pioneer Award was presented to Buddy Bolden posthumously.  He is the subject of the upcoming film about his life, “Bolden,” directed by Dan Pritzker.  His great granddaughter, Rita Bell, accepted the award on his behalf.