Exclusive: On The Red Carpet At The 2018 AAFCA Awards [Video]

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) will held its 9th Annual AAFCA AWARDS ceremony on February 7th celebrating the best of the year in film, television and new media at  Taglyan Complex.

Notables in attendance included: Jordan Peele (Best Director, Best Film Winner for GET OUT), Frances McDormand (Best Actress Winner for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI), Rob Reiner (receiving Stanley Kramer Award for Social Justice), Amanda Lipitz (director of best documentary winner STEP), Ava DuVernay and the cast of “Queen Sugar” including Kofi SiriboeDawn Lyen-GardnerOmar J. DorseyDondre Whitfield (winner of Best TV Series/Drama), Peter Saji (Co-Executive Producer of Black-ish (Winner of Best TV Series/Comedy), the cast of DETROIT including Algee SmithNathan Davis, Jr.Joseph David-JonesLaz AlonsoMalcolm David Kelley (Winner, Best Ensemble), Keegan-Michael KeyPaula PattonOmar EppsCourtney B. VanceTia Carerre,   Sherri ShepherdVictoria RowellDarius McCrary, Benito MartinezGeri McIntyre and Paula Dofat (from the cast of STEP), Cheo Hodari Coker (creator/producer “Luke Cage”), Luis GuzmanBrian WhiteCaryn Ward RossElvis NolascoChrystee PharrisMatt Ruskin (creator of “Crown Heights”) and Kevin Frazier (Entertainment Tonight), among others.

How does it feel to be here?

Elvis Nolasco: “Oh my god nothing but gratitude it feels really amazing to be here at such a prestigious and honorable event.”

Luis Guzmán: “This is a representation of the good work that people do and the recognition of their work. I just happy to be here and be a part of it.”

Sheryl Lee Ralph: “Coming up on nine years of getting to support the African American Film Critics Association for shining the light on the great work that’s getting done in front of and behind the camera by people of color. Whether they speak English, Spanish, French, or whatever, to know that people of color are contributing mightily and greatly to the arts!”

Cheo Hodari Coker: “I love the fact that there’s an organization like the African American Film Critics that not only put together awards but put together an event that really attracts all of black Hollywood in one place, because not only is it an opportunity, besides the NAACP Awards, to celebrate achievements, it’s also just a cool way to just catch up with people.”

Dawn-Lyen Gardner: “You know, this has been one of the most transformative experiences for me as an actor. I had dreamed of working on something where women are not just featured, which is already such a rarity, but they’re also very much behind the scenes, they’re very much in leadership all through production and that’s what I’ve seen here! It’s women of all colors in all positions and just that alone is such a huge game changer really. Even though it’s not your field, there’s something about the energy of the work, there’s something about seeing it’s possible for us to be in any space, even spaces that were not traditionally occupied by women. It really does do something to you emotionally. So it’s been huge in my life and I can’t say how thrilled I am.”

Benito Martinez: “I’ve had a lot of great wonderful stories and now I’ve got more people coming to me with real stories about real people of color and it’s like, you know, how come we’re not telling this story? Fortunately, with things like Hulu and Netflix and even FX, all of them, there are more venues so they need more content. So as we’re building this library there’s going to be more exposure. I think more people of color are going to find that chance to show this great work.”

Joseph David-Jones: “I’m surrounded by so much black excellence, it’s humbling, it’s humbling, to say the least. But I’m so excited to see all these people and I don’t know, to get recognition.”

Elvis Nolasco: “My kind of artistry is always looking for something that is fresh, that is different, that is new and challenging-most importantly.”

Karen Sharpe: “Mel asked us to come back and present the Stanley Kramer Award, Social Justice Award. Which is actually an award that’s going to be given to an individual or an organization.  Not necessarily in the film business, it can be in any walk of life. It can be with politics or science or sports. Someone who has made a commitment, who is courageous and has chosen to take up the mantle and follow in Stanley’s footsteps.”

Kat Kramer: “It happens to be that Rob Reiner is the first recipient tonight and he’s a fantastic choice being a phenomenal filmmaker, actor, and more importantly an activist. He’s the real deal, you know? A lot of filmmakers or actors use activism to get attention, but he really cares about the issues he believes in.”

Joseph David-Jones: “I didn’t know anything about the project (Detroit). Before we got the project it was kept under wraps because she wanted everything to be as real and as visceral as it could be. But then when we got the project, I did as much research as I could and going into it, everything was kept so real. So we wouldn’t know what would be happening and we’d be on set and all of a sudden an explosion would go off or something so every reaction we have in this movie is like the real reaction of us just seeing the streets and everything.”

Chike Okonkwo: “I’m so happy for Daniel Kaluuya, I actually did his first job with him when he was 16 years old! So it’s nice to see him up there, I’m so proud of him to be Oscar-nominated and that film, I’m really excited for more people to see it. So yeah-go see Get Out!”

Kat Kramer: “We were at the Golden Globes and we got them (Times Up pins) and we wore black and I’ve been keeping it going and was even at a Times Up Panel for the Makers Conference.”

Karen Sharpe: “And you know us girls, we all do, have to keep it going! Otherwise, it’ll be a flurry and it’ll dissipate.”

Dawn-Lyen Gardner: “Honestly I was inspired by a lot of my sisters who were doing it you know?    That’s one of the blessings of getting to study and train, there’s sort of a group of black women who came out of the program at Juilliard and there’s something about that sisterhood and witnessing each other develop artistically was really huge for me.”

Chike Okonkwo: “I think Ava Duvernay is like- a queen! She actually is like American royalty to me. Like we have a royal family in the UK, but it’s like Ava, Michelle, and Barack- they’re like American royalty. It’s the truth!”

Cheo Hodari Coker: “Because the thing about Ava (Duvernay) is that seeing her come up from being a publicist and being around the hip-hop scene in the 90’s in the same way that I was and then watching her climb as a writer-producer-director, it’s just awesome!”

Sheryl Lee Ralph: “You know what I don’t care what industry you’re in, I don’t care what it is you choose to do, movies, TV, law, medicine, raise a family- those are all some very big jobs and you better make sure that you are ready for those jobs. The only person you have to spend a whole lot of time with is yourself, with yourself, for yourself because the better you are to yourself, the better you can be to anybody else.”

Benito Martinez: “Part of what artistry is is finding your voice. So if you try to shape it to somebody else’s opinion, you start to lose your own voice. So you need to hone your voice. So you try something you go- no, try it again- no, try it again- ok that’s starting to work. And all the great artists who’ve made their own way did that. They’ve failed and failed and failed until they found it. Picasso, Stallone, Glen Close! All of these people were like, I’m still going to be bold and go out there and try until I find my voice. And then when you do, then it’s a strong voice, it’s your voice, it means something. And then you can whisper it or shout it, but it’s yours.”

Luis Guzmán: “If you’re talented or not, but you’re ambitious enough, go for it. Make it happen you know? Because the thing is, there’s so much room nowadays in this universe for people to be able to showcase their talent. And that’s what I’m about, that’s what I’m about encouraging.”

Chike Okonkwo: “And part of the reason is the history of America is so short and so dramatic, and there are so many stories that haven’t yet been told. And it’s amazing to be able to tell some of those stories, especially from the African American perspective. But I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface, there’s so much more to come.”

Cheo Hodari Coker: “Just take the game to another level. And the fact that everybody wants to see it (The Black Panther) is not a black thing, it’s a universal thing. It’s a universally I want to see this cool movie thing. That’s also an achievement so it’s really just an incredible movie that I think a lot of people are really going to love!”

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