BET Partners With American Black Film Festival For First Annual 2016 ABFF Awards

BET Networks has given us unforgettable pop culture moments with the BET Awards and BET Hip-Hop Awards respectively. The network has now taken another leap by teaming up with the American Black Film Festival to produce the 2016 ABFF Awards: A Celebration of Hollywood, the network announced Monday.

Variety reports the show, hosted by comedian Mike Epps, will be televised on BET and Centric Feb. 23 at p.m. EST.

The awards will celebrate Hollywood’s brightest stars and films in Black culture with special awards such as the “Hollywood Legacy Award” presented to legendary actress Actress Diahann Carroll, the “Distinguished ABFF Alumni Award” to Ride Along producer Will Packer, the “Excellence in the Arts Awards” to actors Don Cheadle and Regina King, and the “Rising Star” award to Creed director Ryan Coogler.

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Jeff Friday, ABFF founder and CEO, released a statement on Monday about the festival’s segway into an awards show. After coming into fruition in 1997, the four-day festival often highlights actors and filmmakers of African descent who’s work are often overshadowed in mainstream Hollywood.

“Twenty years ago, I created the American Black Film Festival to spotlight the rich diversity of talent and achievement. It was born out of my love for film and desire to ensure that Black people gained opportunity and equity in every arena of Hollywood,” Friday said. “I am truly honored to partner with BET to showcase the work of our most talented artists,” said Jeff Friday, ABFF Founder and CEO, in a statement.

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Stephen Hill, President of Programming at BET, also shared his thoughts on the show. The announcement of the event comes weeks into debates and planned boycotts of the 88th Academy Awards. The Academy is undergoing changes into it’s racial and gender makeup after no actors of color were nominated for performances for the second time in a row.

“It’s clear that there’s a need for this show,” Hill said. “BET is very excited to partner with Jeff and ABFF to present ‘A Celebration of Hollywood.’ We will unabashedly acknowledge performances and achievements of African-Americans on screen from this past year and give special honor and recognition to artists that have thrilled us during their highly acclaimed careers. 2015 was ripe with tremendous and inspiring performances by African-Americans and we are beyond thrilled to be the ones to recognize them with class and admiration.”

Will you be tuning into the ABFF Awards?