Lena Waithe, Louis Gossett Jr. Tapped for American Black Film Festival Honors

Courtesy of ABFF
Lena Waithe and Louis Gossett Jr.

Waithe will receive the Industry Renaissance Award, while Gossett will be presented with the Hollywood Legacy Award at the Feb. 23 ceremony.

Lena Waithe and Louis Gossett Jr. are set to receive top honors at the upcoming American Black Film Festival Honors.

Waithe has been tapped to receive the Industry Renaissance Award, which recognizes "content creators whose exemplary work in film and television contributes to changing perceptions of people of color in the entertainment industry."

Gossett will be presented with the Hollywood Legacy Award, which honors "a legendary artist whose trailblazing work has inspired generations and made an enduring contribution to film and television."

"We're honored to celebrate these two extraordinary talents," said ABFF Ventures CEO Jeff Friday. "These awards not only recognize how Mr. Gossett's contributions have propelled the industry forward but also acknowledge a new generation of trailblazers in people like Ms. Waithe, who will continue to create change and new opportunities in film and television for people of color."

Gossett launched his 40-year acting career with his film debut alongside Sidney Poitier in the 1961 classic A Raisin in the Sun. Gossett was the first African American to win an Academy Award for best supporting actor, for his performance as drill Sergeant Emil Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman. Additionally, he has been nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, five NAACP Images Awards and two Daytime Emmy Awards and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Gossett also is the founder of The Eracism Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating racism.

Waithe is credited with championing underserved voices in the industry, creating writing and development opportunities for people of color as well as promoting diversity and representation on the screen through her production company, Hillman Grad. She serves as a writer and executive producer of two BET shows: the new series Twenties and the second season of the Boomerang revival, which she created alongside Halle Berry. Other credits include Showtime's The Chi and How to Make Love to a Black Woman and The 40-Year-Old Version, which is premiering at Sundance. Waithe also has an overall deal to create and produce original series for Amazon Prime Video and became the first woman of color to win an Emmy for best writing for a comedy series for Master of None. Her feature screenwriting debut, Queen & Slim, is nominated for the ABFF Honors' Movie of the Year Award.

Presented by ABFF Ventures, the 2020 ABFF Honors will take place Feb. 23 in Los Angeles. Previously announced honorees include Cynthia Erivo with the Rising Star Award and The Wire with the Classic Television Award. The ceremony will be hosted by Emmy-nominated comedian and actor Deon Cole (Black-ish).