In a virtual ceremony, the African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) recognized African American actors and actresses who do their parts to help the community on and off the screen, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 2020 AAFCA winners included Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,) while some presenters included William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) and Octavia Spencer (Self Made).
The key mission statement of the AAFCA, as iterated by host Aida Rodriguez (The Greatest Song, Unfallen), is maintained as “making sure our talent is seen, our voices are heard, and our stories are told,” per The Hollywood Reporter.
The first award for best animated series, presented by Matthew A. Cherry (Hair Love), was awarded to Apple TV+’s Central Park. The relatively new animated sitcom follows a family living in Central Park as they attempt to rescue it from a land developer. The series stars David Diggs (Hamilton, black-ish), Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton, Harriet, Smash), Josh Gad (Beaty and the Beast, Frozen), Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Dolemite Is My Name), and Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada, The Hunger Games).
Next, Niles Fitch (This Is Us) presented the award for best young adult series, which went to Netflix’s Never Have I Ever, which was accepted by creator Mindy Kaling (The Office, The Mindy Project). The coming of age dramedy follows an Indian American high school student attempting to deal with the death of her father along with the complications of being a first generation American. The series was praised for its South Asian representation and stars Maitryi Ramakrishnan (Acting for a Cause), Darren Barnet (American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules), Jaren Lewison (Away & Back, Tag), Richa Moorjani (X: Past Is Present), Poorna Jagannathan (Delhi Belly, The Night Of), and Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes, Beauty & The Beast).
Meanwhile, Nicco Annan (P-Valley) and Brandee Evans (P-Valley) joined to honor the winner of best docuseries, which went to both HBO’s Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children, and ESPN’s The Last Dance. The former series discusses the new evidence that was discovered which was linked to the abduction and murder of around 30 African American children and young adults in Atlanta during the late 1970s and early 1908s. The latter series followed the Chicago Bulls’ 1997-1998 season, covering the iconic moments of Michael Jordan’s career.
Netflix’s Hollywood was recognized for the breakout performer category, which was awarded by Kevin Frazier (The Insider, Entertainment Tonight) to Jeremy Pope (The Ranger) and Laura Harrier (Fahrenheit 451, Spider-Man: Homecoming). Hollywood follows the aspiring actors and filmmakers in post-World War II Hollywood who will do just about anything to achieve their dreams. The series stars David Corenswet (The Politician, Following Chase), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang theory, Young Sheldon), Darren Criss (Glee, American Horror Story), and Queen Latifah (Girls Trip, Set It Off).
Next, Sheryl Lee Ralph (Ray Donovan) awarded Sterling K. Brown the award for best actor for the second consecutive year. He is most well-known for his role in This Is Us, which follows Jack Pearson, played by Milo Ventimiglia (Gilmore Girls) and his wife Rebecca, played by Mandy Moore (Tangled, The Princess Diaries) as they raise their triplets in the 1980s. The series also follows the children as they navigate life, now in their 30s, following the death of their father.
Tichina Arnold (The Neighborhood) awarded the Emmy-nominated HBO series Insecure as the year’s best comedy. The series follows Issa and Molly, played by Issa Rae (Awkward Black Girl) and Yvonne Orji (Night School), respectively, as they struggle with their insecurities to be comfortable in their own skin. The show also touches on several social and racial issues that connect with being Black in America. Alongside Rae and Orji, the series also stars Jay Ellis (Escape Room, Top Gun), Natasha Rothwell (Sonic the Hedgehog, Like a Boss), Amanda Seales (The Real, My Brother and Me), and Kendrick Sampson (How To Get Away With Murder).
Lastly, Rashida Jones (The Office, Parks and Recreation) awarded her co-star Kenya Barris (black-ish, grown-ish) with the Icon Award for his creation of the Netflix series #blackAF. The mockumentary showcases the unfiltered reality of being a successful black family in the United States. Similar themes were also discussed in Barris’ other shows, including black-ish and its spin-offs mixed-ish and grown-ish. However, he made his acting debut in #blackAF as a fictional version of himself. Upon winning the award, he states, “It’s something I never felt that I would be in a position to get. How old do these people actually think I am?” via The Hollywood Reporter.
The full list of the AAFCA awards can be viewed below.
TV Icon – Kenya Barris
Inclusion Award – MACRO Television Studios
Best Actress – Viola Davis, “How To Get Away With Murder” (ABC)
Best Actor – Sterling K. Brown, “This is Us” (NBC)
Best Drama – “For Life” (ABC)
Best Comedy – “Insecure” (HBO)
Best TV Movie – “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” (Lifetime)
Breakout Performers – Jeremy Pope / Laura Harrier, “Hollywood” (Netflix)
Best YA – “Never Have I Ever” (Netflix)
Best Animated – “Central Park” (Apple TV+)
Best Documentary – “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children” (HBO) and “The Last Dance (ESPN Films/Netflix)
Best Short Form – “I Promise” (Quibi)