For the second year in a row, there weren’t any people of color nominated for best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, or best supporting actress and there were ZERO films featuring African American actors nominated in the best picture category prompting another year of the trending #OscarSoWhite hashtag.  Although Cheryl Boone Isaacs has implemented a plan to improve diversity within the Academy by 2020, its current members and the nominees for this year are not an accurate reflection of the world that we live in today.

Despite the lack of inclusion in this year’s Oscars ceremony, plenty of high-profile organizations and thought leaders in our community have come together to build platforms that promote, recognize, and celebrate the accomplishments of black people who work both in front of and behind the camera in the entertainment industry.

“There’s something more exciting than watching Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio sit in the audience at the Academy Awards.” – April Reign, Creator of #OscarSoWhite hashtag

Below is a list of a few amazing awards shows, platforms, and events taking place during the week of the Oscars that aim to celebrate the work of black people in Hollywood:

ABFF (American Black Film Festival) Honors, A Celebration of Hollywood:  The first ever ABFF Honors is the perfect counter to #OscarsSoWhite.  Hosted by Mike Epps, this event taped on Sunday, February 21st and will air on Centric and BET tonight at 8:00pm EST.  The ABFF Awards ceremony celebrates the tremendous and recognizable accomplishments blacks have made in the entertainment industry at large.  The ceremony not only honors those who are making strides in film and television today, but also those who blazed trails before us.

Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon:  For the past 8 years, Essence has gathered Hollywood’s most powerful and celebrated African-American artists and entertainers for the Annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. This annual event will be held on Thursday, February 25th at the Beverly Hill’s Hotel, and will air on Saturday, February 27th at 10:00pm ET/PT on OWN.  The 2016 Black Women in Hollywood Award will be presented to actress Tracee Ellis Ross (Fierce & Fearless Award), multi-talented producer, director and actress Debbie Allen (Legend Award), and entertainment attorney Nina Shaw (Lincoln Power Award).

All Def Digital Movie Awards  The first ever All Def Movie Awards hosted by Tony Rock will take place on February 24th at the TLC Chinese Theater in Hollywood.  Fusion’s cable channel will broadcast an hour long presentation of the awards at 7:00pm Sunday, February 28 (the day of the Oscars), and it will replay throughout the night.  Members of the public can vote for two categories in the All Def Movie Awards (Best Picture and Most Quoted Movie) online through midnight on February 23rd (tonight).  The awards will honor Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director as well as Best Bad Muh Fucka and other often overlooked categories, such as Best Helpful White Person and Best Black Survivor in a Movie. ADD will also pay tribute to Will Smith and Norman Lear.

The Root Young Fabulous & Female Panel:  If you are in LA, Young, Fabulous and Female: Los Angeles will be held Wednesday, February 24 from 6:30pm – 10:30pm at Siren Studios.  A powerhouse panel will include Mara Brock Akil, founder, creator and executive producer of Akil Productions (‘Being Mary Jane’); producer and director Nzingha Stewart (‘For Colored Girls,’ ‘With This Ring’); TV host Nina Parker (Love & Hip Hop); Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, CBS senior vice president of entertainment diversity and communications; Gail Huggins Porter, senior counsel, production legal, at NBC Universal; and LA84 Foundation President and CEO Renata Simril.  RSVP HERE

ARRAY Ashes and Embers Film Screening @ The Broad Museum:  ARRAY @ The Broad is an ongoing series featuring classic and contemporary films curated with an eye toward the intersection of art, history, and cultural identity. With the cinematic image as the centerpiece, the series engages audiences through post-screening conversations with a spectrum of artists and scholars for an immersive exchange of ideas and insights beyond the screen that enliven many issues addressed by artists in the Broad collection.  This month a screening of ‘Ashes and Embers’ will take place on Thursday, February 25th at 8:30pm at REDCAT in Los Angeles.  Director Ava DuVernay will be curating the panel after the screening.   

#JUSTICEFORFLINT:  Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler, Janelle Monae and many others will be attending #JUSTICEFORFLINT in Flint, Michigan the evening of The Oscars, Sunday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 pm EST to raise awareness and funds for those affected by the water crisis.  Registration for the free event is available HERE, and doors will open at 4:00pm EST Sunday, February 28th.  Donations will be collected during the livestream broadcast on  Be sure to tune in if you are unable to attend.

Black&Sexy:  Black&SexyTV is hosting Battle of the G.O.A.T.’s aka the Greatest of All Times Debates, an event where the crew will gather to debate about some of best in Black film.  Catch the live broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Periscope on the night of the Oscars, Sunday, February 28th at 6:00pm (after the opening Chris Rock Oscars monologue of course).

UpTown Magazine Pre-Oscars Gala:  Uptown Magazine will honor award-winning television and film actress Nia Long at their annual “Uptown Honors Hollywood” Pre-Oscar Gala.  This event will be hosted by comedian Chris Spencer, and will take place on Thursday, February 25 at Lure, in Hollywood, CA.  The evening will pay tribute to Nia’s illustrious work including her memorable roles on the big screen in John Singleton’s critically-acclaimed film, ‘Boyz n the Hood,’ family comedy drama ‘Soul Food,’ romantic drama ‘Love Jones’ and comedy drama ‘The Best Man.’

“Instead of looking at this as a disempowering moment, I’d like to use moments like this, and use the frustration that we feel today to encourage us to do things to gauge our own fate as African Americans.” – Jeff Friday, ABFF President, CEO



About The Author

The HBR Media Team is a collective group of black women filmmakers, writers, and studio/network executives who are passionate about bringing visibility to women of African descent working in film and television.

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