Sunday night the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) honored several of Hollywood’s finest actors in one of the first presentations of awards season.

The guests sounded like a who’s who of black Hollywood elite as Hill Harper, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Richard Roundtree, Dee Rees, Ava DuVernay Sheryl Lee Ralph, Rocky Carroll, Hattie Winston, Penny Johnson Jerald, and many more came out to honor the achievements of African Americans in film.

Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis took home Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress awards respectively for their roles in The Help. The film’s director, Tate Taylor, came out to support his award-winning actresses, saying that he is “proud” of Davis and Spencer’s performances, which many feel will also bring them Oscar nominations.

The event was hosted by Kevin Frazier of “The Insider,” who challenged black viewers to “support what’s important” to them instead of merely complaining about the lack of films they see with black casts.

Other winners included legendary actress Hattie Winston who took home the Horizon Award, Steve McQueen who was honored as Best Director, Dee Rees for her film “Pariah,” Ava DuVernay took home the award for Best Original Screenplay, and Adepero Oduye received the Breakout Performance award for her role in “Pariah”.

AAFCA started in 2003 as a way to support and highlight African American filmmakers and journalists. Although there have been many strides for black directors and actors, the current state of black Hollywood is in flux, according to AAFCA’s founder, Gil Robertson.

“On the one hand, the biggest star in the world is a black man, Will Smith, but yet we don’t see the level of support and commitment and commitment behind projects that feature or deal with African American themes,” he explained.

With films like “I Will Follow” and “Pariah” garnering mainstream buzz, will independent black filmmakers finally get their due in Hollywood? Robertson sure hopes so.

“You have something new called the AFFRM initiative, which was established by Ava DuVernay and it’s time that we take power and control in our own hands. Given the advances made in technology it’s not possible to distribute and platform your movies in a way like never before. I see the sky’s the limit.”

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