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Take out the stuffiness of serious awards shows, add a lot of comedy and actors of color and you have the inaugural All Def Movie Awards.
Russell Simmons’ response to #OscarsSoWhite drew a slew of industry supporters of all races — Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Robin Thicke, Marlon Wayans, Gary Owen, Sanaa Lathan, Regina Hall, Nick Cannon, Robert Townsend, D.L. Hughley, Michael Ealy and Mike Epps — to Lure nightclub in Hollywood on Wednesday night.
The show was hosted by none other than Chris Rock’s brother Tony Rock, who envisioned the show along with Simmons. Throughout the evening, Tony expressed that the show was not a dig at the Oscars but a celebration in the spirit of awards season.
“This is not a shot at the Oscars,” said Tony in his opening monologue. “This is just our awards show done our way with our flavor on it. You know everything is better when we put our flavor on it.”
Tony added: “People say an Oscar validates your career. No, it doesn’t. There’s more good actors without Oscars than there are with Oscars. Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t have an Oscar, and he was the shit in Wolf of Wall Street. He was amazing in The Revenant. Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t have an Oscar, but Mo’Nique got one, and she’s at the Ontario Improv next week.”
However, when asked what to look forward to when Chris hosts the Oscars, Tony praised his brother and exclaimed that viewers have #OscarsSoWhite jokes to look forward to.
“It’s amazing,” said Tony. “He’s going to kill, and I’m very proud of him.”
And celebrities seemed proud to attend a gathering that felt more like good, casual fun and not what they called a serious and “stuffy” awards show. Simmons even took the stage mid-show to apologize saying, “I’m sorry this is so ghetto.” The audience, however, was fully entertained as Snoop Dogg danced onstage, all-star comics cracked jokes about minority roles in Hollywood and O’Shea Jackson Jr. voiced words of inspiration for the underdogs.
“It’s a celebration of people who otherwise would not be celebrated,” said Simmons. “Here we are with the most passionate group of activists on the planet, and still we live in the most segregated place on the planet right here in Hollywood.”
Although the show will be airing opposite the Oscars, Simmons expressed that the All Def Movie awards was never intended to take shots at the Academy. All Def Digital CEO Sanjay Sharma added that the show will gear toward a different demographic who aren’t interested in watching the Oscars. Simmons, who applauded the Academy’s recent diversity efforts, stated that he will be watching the Oscars at Elton John’s famed viewing party and also attending Madonna’s annual bash.
“I didn’t make the choice as to when to air it,” said Simmons of his awards show. “I didn’t want to compete with the Oscars. I’d like to have them around the same time. I would like to have done it before and after [the Oscars], but it’s not my choice.”
Many actors in attendance hoped the All Def show will open up the conversation that studio executives should green-light more films that feature people of color both in front and behind the camera. It’s an initiative that Simmons explains is the purpose of his All Def Digital brand.
“I green-light 15 pieces of content a week. All Def Digital allows me to say yes,” said Simmons. “One day I’ll green-light my own movies or TV shows or TV ideas. We will make our full-length films. One day we will get back to talking about race the way Norman Lear talked about it 30 or 40 years ago.”
Categories included Best Bad Muh Fu$&a, Best Black Survivor in a Movie and Best Helpful White Person (presented by Robin Thicke). Comedians D.L. Hughley and J.B. Smoove recognized actors who should have won Oscars, including Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Denzel Washington for Malcom X, Jackie Chan for Rush Hour and The Color Purple (nominated for the Academy Award 11 times).
Ice Cube was a big winner of the night. He took home three awards for most quoted movie (Friday) best black survivor in a movie (Anaconda) and best picture (Straight Outta Compton). “It’s not about winning,” said Cube. “It’s about celebrating, and that’s what we’re doing.”
The All Def Movie Awards will air on Fusion at 7 p.m. Check out the list of the night’s winners here.
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek