Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors, Barry Jenkins, others among 2021 AAFCA TV honorees
OWN's "Queen Sugar," HBO's "A Black Lady Sketch Show," and CBS's "The Equalizer" also won awards
The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) hosted its third annual TV Honors Awards on Saturday, opting for a virtual format instead of an in-person event as originally planned. The awards identify and honor “exceptional content and performances in television that offer profound and refreshing representations of the world in which we live,” per their website.
Several individual honorees, including Lovecraft Country’s Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors, The Underground Railroad director Barry Jenkins, The Upshaws’ Wanda Sykes and others were honored by the AAFCA’s special committee along with TV shows such as Queen Sugar, Lupin, A Black Lady Sketch Show, The Equalizer, and more.
“Our 2021 Class of Honorees is a special group who are using their considerable gifts to extend television’s legacy of a shaper of culture and a connector of people,” said AAFCA president Gil Robertson.
Smollett and Majors were awarded Best Actress and Best Actor respectively for their leading roles on HBO’s hit 2020 drama Lovecraft Country, which follows army veteran Atticus Freeman (Majors), his friend Letitia (Smollett) and his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) as they embark on a cross-country road trip through Jim Crow-era America.
The award was one of several awarded to HBO shows and their stars on Saturday. Best Comedy was awarded to HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, created and executive produced by Robin Thede with executive production from Issa Rae, starring the likes of Quinta Brunson, Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis and more.
Raoul Peck’s HBO docuseries Exterminate All The Brutes was also awarded, as was HBO/HBO Max itself for their inclusivity as a network.
OWN’s Queen Sugar (2016-present), executive produced by Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey, won awards for Best Drama and Best Writing as well as the Impact Award. The show follows Louisiana siblings Charley Bordelon (Dawn Lyen Gardner), Nova Bordelon (Rutina Wesley), and Ralph Angel Bordelon (Kofi Siriboe) as they cope with their father’s sudden death.
Netflix’s High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America (2021), hosted by Stephen Satterfield and Lupin (2021) starring Omar Sy took home Best Docuseries and Best International Production, respectively.
Amazon Prime Video’s The Underground Railroad (2021), directed by Jenkins and based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name won Best Limited Series. Jenkins also won Best Director for his work on the show. The network’s 2020 romance drama Sylvie’s Love, starring Nnamdi Asomugha and Tessa Thompson won Best Movie.
CBS’s The Equalizer starring Queen Latifah took home the award for Best New Show.
Individual award winners included Master of None’s Naomi Ackie (Horizon Award), I May Destroy You’s Michaela Coel (Breakout Creative Award), The Upshaws’ Sykes (Salute to Excellence Award), and 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen (Game Changer Award). 99-year-old Norman Lear of Good Times fame was honored with the TV Legend Award.
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