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African American Film Critics Launch Television Awards Ceremony

By / Apr 25, 2019 A scene from the TV hit “Atlanta,” starring Lakeith Stanfield (left) and Donald Glover. (Guy D'Alema/FX)

After putting on an event honoring film and television for a decade, the African American Film Critics Association is splitting up the events—with a goal of giving TV work more time in the spotlight.

It’s often said that we’re in the “golden age” of television.

Perhaps it’s in that spirit that a critics group best known for highlighting the work of black artists on the big screen is now putting a fresh focus on the small screen—an area where figures such as Shonda Rhimes, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Glover, and Tyler Perry have been making a big impact for years.

In August, the African American Film Critics Association will put on the first edition of the AAFCA TV Honors. It adds to two other existing awards ceremonies for the group: the AAFCA Awards, held in February before the Oscars, and the AAFCA Special Achievement Luncheon, which honors work being done throughout the industry, including among journalists and behind the scenes. (The film ceremony previously included television categories, but they’re being separated out into the new event.)

In comments to Deadline, the association’s president and cofounder, Gil Robertson, stated that the goal of the new ceremony was to put a special focus on the work being done in the medium.

“We’re excited to expand on our established tradition of celebrating excellence across the Hollywood landscape,” Robertson told the outlet. “It’s a thrilling time for television in terms of quality and influence, especially as networks take huge strides forward in reflecting diversity and inclusion in their programming. This new wave of innovative, thought-provoking storytelling is inspiring and deserving of celebration.”

The new awards ceremony will have seven categories, including the traditional categories for acting, along with best drama and best comedy. But three of the categories will take special approaches: Discovery of the Year will highlight groundbreaking projects, creators, or actors; the Icon Award will highlight industry veterans; and the Inclusion Award will reward networks and productions making strides on issues of diversity and inclusion.

AAFCA has put much effort into highlighting the work of industry figures both present and past. (It put on a Prince film series in 2017, for example.) Last September, the organization hosted a monthlong event with the cable network Turner Classic Movies to highlight the history of black cinema. In addition, it has launched a film production arm and put on events for aspiring filmmakers, such as its 72-Hour Build-A-Film Challenge, which targets students at historically black colleges and universities.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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