Academy Award nominated actress, Angela Bassett, breakout HBO creator/executive producer and star of “Insecure” Issa Rae, and then Oscar-nominated, now turned Oscar-winning director for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, Barry Jenkins, were among the celebs, studio execs and stars at The American Black Film Institute’s 2017 Oscar Week gala!. The stars came out in full force for this love-fest of honorees, attendees and the Hollywood elite, all vying annually to wish Academy Award nominated actors as well as a host of talented artists, good and well wishes on the upcoming awards, while renewing friendships, and forging new deals and partnerships for the new year. This year was no exception as everyone from emerging talent Janelle Monae, starring in two Oscar nominated pictures this year, to Jessie T. Usher star of STARZ network’s Survivor’s Remorse and Independence Day: Resurgence, all took to the red carpet to join the likes of industry and political heavyweights, actor Courtney B. Vance, Forest Whitaker, Brian Grazer, TV and music mogul Mona Scott-Young, executives from Plan B Entertainment, A24 Productions, Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Senator Richard Bloom, Showtime’s David Nevins and Starz Chris Albrecht to name a few, as the crowd came out in support of the nights honorees and the mission of the American Black Film Institute to aid inner city youth in their quest to learn behind the camera skills and production credentials through ABFI’s “Young Filmmakers Making A Difference Program.”
The stars were feted under the backdrop of the Hollywood Hills and Hollywood sign overlooking the venue as Prestons-over-Hollywood, restaurant and club of the Hollywood Loews Hotel, played host as champagne flutes flowed endlessly from sponsor Belaire Champagne for the over 250 guests in attendance. Guests additionally sipped signature cocktails courtesy of Martell Cognac, while treated to rack of lamb in puffed pastries, barbeque beef sliders, chicken, beef, and shrimp satay with mango chutney over saffron rice, as crab puffs and lobster stuffed mushroom hors d’oeuvres circled the room. With honors going to Jenkins who shared heartfelt words and went on to take home double Oscar gold two nights later, Rae with her irreverent style, wit and story of perseverance, and Bassett among others, sharing words of wisdom, the evening was awe-inspiring and humbling.
The night was capped off by an amazing performance by musical prodigy and singer October London, newly signed to Snoop Dogg’s Cadillac Music, who took to the stage and crowd by storm, giving everyone a taste of what to expect when his album debuts in 2017. Seen as the “heir apparent” to the Marvin Gay “esque” sound, people are longing to hear again, this singing sensation wowed the crowd with his singles; “Colorblind” and “Black Man in America,” that had the crowd on their feet and begging for more.
The event which solidified its standing as a must-attend event of the awards show season, once again brought together a host of actors, producers, writers and directors, in celebration of the highlights of the year’s accomplishments for artists of color in film and television, while benefiting their filmmakers scholarship program.
The American Black Film institute is a non-profit cinematic arts foundation, whose goal is to preserve and promote the legacy of diverse stories in film and television, while enhancing the financial viability and broadened success of the artists seeking to bring these stories to the fore. Screen icon Angela Bassett summed up the night best when stating “these types of nights must never end, as up-and-coming talent must continue to take the mantle. You must continue to be bold, be innovative, keep striving and keep challenging, growing and creating. Only in this way can we continue to pass the baton to the next generation of talent.” Those in attendance said they couldn’t agree more!