Stars of ‘Bel-Air’ and ‘Grand Crew’ hit American Black Film Festival red carpet

TheGrio attended the opening night red carpet for the festival, which returns to in-person events two years after COVID-19 forced it to go virtual.

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The American Black Film Festival is back! For the first time in two years, the esteemed film festival celebrating “emerging artists and content made by and about people of African descent” has returned with an in-person festival in addition to virtual offerings.

Ten days of virtual activities start June 20. But with the theme “Cool People, Hot Content,’ the fire and the feels of five days of live events – exclusive parties, screenings and panels with film executives and filmmakers – kicked off Wednesday in Miami Beach, Florida.

TheGrio interviewed cast members of Bel-Air and Grand Crew who expressed excitement about mingling and seeing their industry peers. And the star-studded red carpet? It’s back, too, with theGrio there for the opening night screening of Civil, the upcoming Netflix documentary on attorney Ben Crump.

2022 American Black Film Festival - "Civil" Opening Night Premiere
(Left to right) Cassandra Freeman, Adrian Holmes, Akira Akbar, Jordan Jones, Coco Jones and Rasheed Newson attend the opening night premiere of “Civil” at the 2022 American Black Film Festival at New World Center on June 15, 2022, in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

Attending the festival in celebration of their hit series, the cast of Bel-Air was all smiles on the red carpet. Adrian Holmes, who plays Uncle Phil in the reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, relished being in the space. “It’s my first time at ABFF,” he said. “To come here in this way, backing a show like Bel-Air is special. It’s so surreal to me.”

He said he’s been excited about the positive fan reaction to the series, which has become Peacock’s biggest original series to date. “The conversations that have been sparked because of our show… that’s what it is all about,” he explained. “We’re showing that it’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay just to be heard and to be seen. It’s a show about family and a show about love, and I think we do a good job of showing the full spectrum of the Black community.”

Jordan Jones, who plays Jazz in the series, expressed similar sentiments. He said he watched plenty of people hating on the idea of the reboot when it was announced, but things changed once the first trailer dropped. “It was just so well received, and I am so thankful,” he said. “It’s so funny. I was like, ‘I’m gonna wait for ya’ll, because I know you’re hating on it ,but once ya’ll watch this? It’s gonna be like a brand new show.'”

“This is work still, but I don’t feel like it’s work when I’m on this set,” he continued. “My mom always says, ‘If you love what you do, you don’t have to work a day in your life.’ And even though this is work, it doesn’t feel like work. Us having fun all the time on set and then bringing it to screen, this show has the most genuine and real actors that I’ve ever worked with.”

NBC's New Comedy Series "Grand Crew" Premiere Event
(Left to right) Carl Tart, Nicole Byer, Grasie Mercedes, Bresha Webb, Justin Cunningham, Aaron Jennings and Echo Kellum attend NBC’s new comedy series “Grand Crew” premiere event at Alta Adams on December 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Nicole Byer and Carl Tart of Grand Crew, NBC’s new hit comedy series, and its creator, Phil Augusta Jackson, also spoke to theGrio from the carpet, saying it feels “amazing” to celebrate the show. Byer addressed the audience’s positive reception to the series, explaining, “It feels nice! It feels nice when people come up to me and say that they like the show and that they like my friends, because I get to work with my actual friends. I’ve known Phil for, 15 years? I don’t know! To get to work with a really good friend is incredible.”

Jackson said the show aligns with the popular advice to “write what you know.” He added, “This show is literally about us drinking wine in real life. So to be able to do that on this scale and to have people resonate with the story is awesome.”

The festival is just getting started, and theGrio will continue bringing you updates on all things ABFF.

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