Mike Epps (185020)
Credit: FILE

Special to AmNews

Black and Brown Hollywood has moved pass talking and pondering the “why” as it relates to the 2016 Oscar nominations and the community’s perceived “snubb” (saying no to unwanted Blacks and Browns), and the lack of consistent and positive change.

The battle cry is echoing, the gauntlet has been dropped and the perception of the value of an “award” is being redirected by a creative community that has put big dollars—billions in revenue—into the deep pockets of corporate Hollywood who, by restricting opportunities and excluding the creative community, behind and in front of the camera, so to speak, demonstrates a type of racism that cannot be ignored.

“It’s clear that there’s a need for this show,” said Stephen Hill, president of programming at BET Networks, before speaking to how excited BET is to partner with the American Black Film Festival. “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.”

“Twenty years ago, I created the American Black Film Festival to spotlight the rich diversity of talent and achievement,” said Jeff Friday, founder and CEO of ABFF. “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.”

The awards show will be hosted by actor and comedian Mike Epps (“Survivor’s Remorse”) and will celebrate Black culture, as well as recognizing individuals, films and television shows of the past year that affected American entertainment. The awards also recognize those individuals who champion diversity and inclusion inside Hollywood.

When ABFF Ventures announced that Epps would host the 2016 ABFF Honors, Feb. 21 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel (Los Angeles), Black and Brown Hollywood swelled with pride. Change is coming, and because it’s driven by the creative storytellers, it will have drama, comedy, soul and music!

The 2016 ABFF Honors gala will be much more than just a celebration of Black culture and its impact on American entertainment. It’s going to be page one of a new book that Hollywood decision-makers will read and take seriously. How seriously? Stay tuned. Our economic power is trackable right down to the penny, ruble, won and rupee.

Held one week before the Academy Awards, the invitation-only awards dinner has a guest list that includes influential artists, executives and stakeholders in the Hollywood community.

“I am encouraged that a handful of Black artists are now being acknowledged at high-profile mainstream award ceremonies, but the work of the majority of our artists continues to be unheralded,” said Jeff Friday,

executive producer and president of ABFF Ventures. “ABFF Honors will change this, and there’s no better person to host our first show than Mike Epps. He is an inspiration to many stand-up comics and living proof that talent combined with focus and perseverance will eventually bring success. I plan to be laughing all night.”

Epps’ career has evolved over the years, and his work in both film and television continues to garner praise and admiration from peers and critics alike.

“I am very proud to be hosting this year’s ABFF Honors celebrating the best in film and television,” said Epps. “To be in a room with such amazing talent and creativity will make for an exciting night, and you know I’ll be ready to hit the stage and entertain.”

The inaugural ceremony is a hybrid of the Kennedy Center Honors and the Golden Globes Awards, featuring both competitive awards and special tributes that are determined by the 2016 Awards Committee, which consists of artists, journalists and industry influencers.

As one of the most eminent events of the Hollywood awards season and Black History Month, the event, produced by ABFF Ventures (a partnership between Film Life and Black Enterprise), in association with de Passe Jones Entertainment, will begin with red carpet arrivals at 5 p.m., followed by an awards dinner and post-awards honoree party.

For more information about the 2016 ABFF Honors, visit www.abffhonors.com, http://twitter.com/abff, #ABFF20, http://www.facebook.com/pages/American-Black-Film-Festival/47321635722 or www.instagram.com/AmericanBlackFilmFestival.