The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) announced this year’s Special Achievement Honorees ahead of the AAFCA TV Honors, now in its third year. Selected by special committee, recipients include individuals and organizations who recognize and utilize the medium TV as a powerful tool of change.
“Our 2021 Class of Honorees is a special group who are using their considerable gifts to extend television’s legacy as a shaper of culture and a connector of people,” said AAFCA president Gil Robertson. The 2021 ceremony will take place on Saturday, August 21st at the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, CA. Individual winners will be announced at a later date.
This year’s honorees include Oscar-winning director and recipient of the Game Changer Award Steve McQueen, whose Amazon Studios limited series “Small Axe” depicted the journey of individuals within the West Indian community of London and created a window for audiences into experiences rarely, if ever, depicted in television.
Emmy-winning actress and comedian Wanda Sykes will be lauded with the Salute to Excellence Award for a career spent expanding the borders of inclusion for not only Black and LGBTQ individuals, but for women as well.
This year’s recipient of the Horizon Award is actress Naomi Ackie, who made her mark on TV in the past year with breakout roles in both Netflix’s “Master of None” and the aforementioned “Small Axe”; her work suggests to the AAFCA that this is only the beginning of a long and prestigious career working within the medium.
Multi-hyphenate Michaela Coel will receive the Breakout Creative Award (presented with ADColor) for her HBO limited series “I May Destroy You.” An intimate and searing examination of sexual assault, Coel served as writer, director, producer, and star of the series, while also supporting issues of fair compensation for creatives, as well as diversity and inclusion.
Netflix’s sleek and seductive French series “Lupin” nabs this year’s Best International Production Award for its new spin on a classic gentleman thief character depicted by Omar Sy. The series served as an opportunity to both expand the terrain — and possibilities — for accessible global stories with a Black leading actor.
This year’s Impact Award goes to OWN’s “Queen Sugar,” as created by Ava DuVernay, which used its fifth season to examine the COVID crisis within the Black community at large, a shining example of compelling TV that can also serve the greater public good.
Finally, HBO/HBO Max scored the Inclusion Award, a reflection of the organization’s long history of inclusive programming, which includes “Lovecraft Country,” “I May Destroy You,” “Tina,” “Insecure,” “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” “In Treatment,” and more in the last year alone. HBO, and now HBO Max, serve as a shining example of what the industry can and should do when it comes to supporting inclusive storytelling.
“We couldn’t be prouder to bestow AAFCA’s highest honors to this remarkable group of honorees responsible for diverse and inclusive content that uplifts and inspires,” said Robertson. “Our hope is that our industry will continue its tremendous strides toward a landscape with diversity and inclusion at its core. Over the past year especially, we have gotten that and more, and look forward to a glorious event celebrating the very best of what we can strive to be in both our creative and earthly realms.”