We are pleased to announce that Richard Roeper, Roger Ebert's longtime colleague and cherished co-host on "Ebert & Roeper At The Movies," will be the latest recipient of the African American Film Critics Association's ("AAFCA') Roger Ebert Award. He will be among the class of honorees (Clarence Avant, Sherry Lansing, Niija Kuykendall, Matthew Cherry, Deon Taylor, Kenny Leon and NALIP) celebrated at the 2020 AAFCA Special Achievement Awards Luncheon to be held on Saturday, April 11th, 2020 in the Crystal Ballroom at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. "I can't even begin to express how much this means to me," said Richard." "I am humbled and honored, and it will be my great privilege to join such a legendary and distinguished group of honorees!"
The Roger Ebert award will honor Roeper's esteemed career spanning over 30 years, in which he used his platform to analyze and champion vital works of cinema, both mainstream and independent, at the Chicago Sun-Times. It will also honor his books, and his many other broadcasting platforms where he highlighted the filmmaking industry. Gil Robertson and AAFCA established the Roger Ebert Award in 2014. "I am proud that Richard Roeper will be joining this distinguished group of critics receiving this award from AAFCA," said Chaz Ebert. "Roger enjoyed sparring back and forth with Richard and would be thrilled that Richard is receiving this honor." Past recipients of the award have included Pulitzer Prize-winner Wesley Morris of The New York Times, Variety critic Justin Chang, New York Times critic Manohla Dargis, Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips, LAFCA president Claudia Puig and Los Angeles Times reporter Susan King.
“AAFCA Special Achievement Awards are given to individuals whose careers have impacted the entertainment industry,” said Gil Robertson, AAFCA co-founder/CEO. “They include a mix of individuals from various corners of the industry who have distinguished themselves in their work, making a powerful and wide-reaching impact. Many of them we celebrate for their long-term contributions while others are emerging figures who, in a relatively short time, have made immediate contributions while foreshadowing the promise of greater things to come.”
Clarence Avant, whose legacy was most recently chronicled in the Netflix documentary, "The Black Godfather," spearheaded by his daughter Nicole, will receive the Game Changer Award for his behind the scenes generosity and power moves that rippled across the entertainment industry. Former Paramount chair Sherry Lansing will receive the Legacy Award for both her trailblazing career as the rare female studio head as well as her philanthropy work through her eponymous foundation.
Warner Bros. Pictures’ senior vice president, film production Niija Kuykendall will receive the Ashley Boone Award, named for the pioneering film executive and administered by his family, including sister Cheryl Boone Isaacs, for her stellar track record and promise in the industry. Filmmakers Matthew Cherry and Deon Taylor are respectively Breakout Filmmaker and Horizon Award honorees. Through his Hidden Empire Film Group, Taylor over the last decade has built a film library that he has largely directed and produced. His recent films include "The Intruder" starring Michael Ealy, Megan Good and Dennis Quaid and "Black and Blue," starring Naomie Harris and Tyrese Gibson. Cherry executive produced Spike Lee’s Oscar-winning "BlacKkKlansman" and earned acclaim this year for his animated short film, "Hair Love," showcasing a Black father doing his daughter’s natural hair for the first time.
The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) will receive AAFCA’s Salute To Excellence Award in recognition of its work to maximize diversity and inclusion for creators of color across the spectrum of entertainment over the last 20 years. Finally, director Kenny Leon, whose most recent work is "American Son," will receive the Nissan Innovator Award in recognition of his innumerable contributions to both the Broadway stage and the big and small screens.
Past Special Achievement Awards honorees include Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, current Netflix and former Disney executive Tendo Nagenda, legendary actor-activist Edward James Olmos and more. “Like previous recipients, members of our 2020 class of honorees have demonstrated the highest standards of excellence in their respective spheres while also creating spaces that have allowed others who follow to reach even greater heights. We look forward to welcoming them to the AAFCA circle of excellence in April,” added Robertson.
The AAFCA Awards, the organization’s tentpole gala, will take place on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood. For more information, visit the official site of AAFCA.