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Colman Domingo Delivered the Best Performance of 2023 in Rustin, Will Receive AAFCA Award on February 21st

Colman Domingo burst onto the screen as civil rights leader Rustin Bayard in "Rustin," and his performance was so strong that I cannot stop thinking about it. 

Domingo nailed Rustin's vaguely mid-Atlantic accent, his ferocious drive and aching vulnerability. When he finds himself overcome with emotion at a key moment in the film, I found my tears flowing along with his own. His performance was hands down my favorite of 2023, and he will receive the Best Actor Award at the 15th annual African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) Awards this Wednesday, February 21st, at the Beverly Wilshire (you can find the full list of this year's AAFCA Award recipients here). 

I remember Bayard Rustin. He was sometimes in television news clips, but I recall him most often in Ebony or Jet magazine, his hair combed upwards as if he was a force against the wind. He was a learned intellectual and Domingo brings to life his quick wit and organized strategic thinking. I was impressed by Rustin's obvious intelligence and his passion for justice. Domingo's performance captured the essence of Bayard's soul with such arresting beauty and nuance that it left me floored. Rustin was the architect of 1963’s momentous March on Washington, but was largely overlooked because the organizations feared that his sexuality would be held against the movement. Sadly, it was not just a thought, as homosexual acts were still considered illegal in some jurisdictions at that time. 

The film, directed by DGA Award and five-time Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe, shines a long overdue spotlight on the extraordinary man who, alongside giants like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Ella Baker inspired a movement in a march toward freedom. Produced by Academy Award winner Bruce Cohen, Higher Ground’s Tonia Davis and George C. Wolfe, the Netflix film features an all-star cast including Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, Gus Halper, CCH Pounder, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Johnny Ramey, Michael Potts, with Jeffrey Wright and Audra McDonald

In addition to the AAFCA Award, Domingo's performance in "Rustin" has earned him Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA, Critics Choice and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor. Domingo's portrayal gives the film's titular Black organizer his rightful place in history. 

Colman Domingo in "The Color Purple." Courtesy of Warner Bros./Ser Baffo.

For three decades, Colman Domingo has worked in film, television, and theater. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and SAG Ensemble Award for "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" and a second Spirit Award and Gotham Award for his work in "Zola". He won the 2022 Emmy Award, an Image and HCA Television Award for his performance as Ali in the critically acclaimed "Euphoria." On stage, Domingo has been nominated for two Tony® awards as well as an Olivier Award. He has also been recognized for his work as a playwright ("A Boy and His Soul") and producer. Domingo co-wrote, produced, and starred in the Academy Award shortlisted animated short film “New Moon” and executive produced and starred in the short film “North Star.” He was also seen last year in the musical adaptation of "The Color Purple," where once again, he gave a strong memorable performance.

For more information on AAFCA and its programs, visit AAFCA.com.

Chaz Ebert

Chaz is the CEO of several Ebert enterprises, including the President of The Ebert Company Ltd, and of Ebert Digital LLC, Publisher of RogerEbert.com, President of Ebert Productions and Chairman of the Board of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and Co-Founder and Producer of Ebertfest, the film festival now in its 24th year.

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