Black excellence in the world of film will be celebrated tonight on BET during the American Black Film Festival Honors.
Some of the greatest black artists in the film and TV world are honored in this year's BET Presents the American Black Film Festival Honors special. Attendees include Fences stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, Empire's Terrence Howard and Lee Daniels, Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray, music superstar Pharrell Williams and legendary actresses Diahann Carroll and Cicely Tyson.
Queen Latifah is receiving the entertainment icon award, while Insecure star and co-creator Issa Rae receives the Rising Star award. Washington wins the Hollywood legacy award. The night also features a tribute to Love Jones, with a reunion of stars Nia Long and Larenz Tate and director Theodore Witcher. Dionne Farris performs the song "Hopeless", which was featured in the film.
The ceremony took place on Friday at the Beverly Hilton and is being edited into a two-hour presentation airing on both BET and Centric. The show begins at 8 p.m. ET/PT and lasts until 10 p.m. ET/PT.
American Black Film Festival founder Jeff Friday says during the show that the ceremony was planned long before any #OscarsSoWhite controversy began, even if this was seen as a reaction to it.
"I actually had this planned before the #OscarsSoWhite controversy - just for the record," Friday explained. "What I don't want is for the viability and the credibility of this [ceremony] to ride on diversity. This is celebrating black culture and we should be able to do this regardless of what is happening in the industry."
This year's Oscar nominations were much better than the past two years when it comes to recognizing minority talent. Black actors Washington, Davis, Naomie Harris, Ruth Negga and Octavia Spencer are all nominated, along with Dev Patel, who is Indian. Additionally, Arrival cinematographer Bradford Young became the first African American to be nominated for Best Cinematography, and Moonlight co-editor Joi McMillion became the first black woman nominated for Best Editing.
However, as #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign told CNN, that does not mean the problem is fixed.
To live tweet and follow along with others watching BET Presents the American Black Film Festival Honors, use hashtag #ABFFHonors on Twitter.