BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) – Guests at the first American Black Film Festival Honors are ready for Chris Rock to shake up the Oscars.
Don Cheadle, Ice Cube, Adina Porter and Michelle Mitchenor are among the entertainers eager to hear the comedian’s take on Hollywood’s diversity crisis when he hosts Sunday’s Academy Awards.
“I think this could be a watershed moment for what he does, and there’s nobody better suited to do it, so I hope he goes in,” Cheadle said Sunday at the inaugural ABFF awards ceremony, where he accepted the Excellence in the Arts award. “I hope he skewers everybody, which is what he’s good at doing.”
The ABFF Honors were produced in conjunction with Black Entertainment Television to recognize film and television productions featuring African Americans as stars or lead creative talents.
“Given the atmosphere of the lack of diversity for the Oscars, I think this is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the filmmakers who are Brown, Black, who are female or diverse in one way or the other or the Oscars won’t,” actor Joe Morton said. “So this is our Oscar.”
The ABFF will celebrate its 20th anniversary in June. The organization and BET created the ABFF Honors this year to celebrate performances overlooked by traditional awards shows.
“When you feel that a section of the art or artists are not being appreciated, there’s a need for an award show like this,” actor O’Shea Jackson Jr., a star of Straight Outta Compton, said Sunday. “We gotta get our piece of this art their credit due and award shows like this, programs like BET, they help further our people in this creative landscape of cinema.”
Some high-profile Black entertainers, including Jada Pinkett Smith, have called for a boycott of the Academy Awards after its second consecutive year of all-White acting nominees.
Actress Salli Richardson-Whitfield said she’s conflicted about watching the ceremony but wants to support Rock as host.
“You want it to be big rating because of him. And I know he’s going to be funny,” she said. “I know he will be relevant and he’s going to say, he’s going to say it how he sees it so I might have to watch because of that.”