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The 1st Annual All Def Movie Awards
Diversity at its Finest in Hollywood
Written by Lea Michelle Cash/Celebrity Showcase
Russell Simmons, the chairman and CEO of Rush Communications who founded the hip-hop music label Def Jam stepped out on faith Oscar week in answer to Hollywood’s need for more diversity and created literally in 10 days, the first annual All Def Movie Awards (ADMA) which was held at the Lure Nightclub in Hollywood.
Simmons phoned and sent emails to friends and colleagues and their respond to his invitation was quite overwhelming. Matter of fact it was downright heartwarming.
The purpose of the ADMA is to ask white Hollywood and black Hollywood to step out of their comfort zones and make friends promoting people in the industry who might not otherwise be promoted or celebrated.
The special affair hosted by comedian, actor Tony Rock was an evening to remember filled with laughter and uproarious fun celebrating the black and brown faces in the entertainment movie industry. What made the evening so special and unique; there were more white people, industry professionals and media folks in the audience than blacks, standing up to the racism in Hollywood.
It appeared to be a welcomed sight, judging by the attitudes and positive remarks from the room full of black faces. “This is diversity and brotherhood at its finest,” said celebrity presenter Tyrese Gibson. “The evening reflects and restores what Simmons has hoped, “The beginning of change in Hollywood. A better collaboration makes the world a better place since culture drives politics and social behaviors,” says Simmons.
Highlights of the special award ceremony: First, the red carpet was black. As the line-up of Hollywood stars paraded down the Black Carpet before a large white media pool, sprinkled with Black and Latino press they answered diversity questions on #OscarsSoWhite to how to make Hollywood better. The brief conversations had roots firmly anchored in changing the world.
Ideas seem to be a dime a dozen on how to fix and diversify Hollywood, however execution is the thing. Simmons who is also founder and chair of All Def Digital, the leading multi-platform media company for millennials focusing on urban youth culture through premium video programming across comedy, music, lifestyle, topical and timely social commentary has executed his call to action and people in Hollywood were listening. Simply put it was a great big house party or block party, everybody was happy and black folks showed out.
The event room was beautifully decorated with white lilies and large silver tin buckets of sponsorship liqueurs. The stage backdrop was lit with the title of the event. Members of the American public were invited to vote online in two categories to determine the winners. Celebrities that attended were Bill Duke, Snoop Dog, Ice Cube, Michael Epps, Sanaa Lathan, Stan Lathan, Tyrese, Robert Townsend, Regina, Amber Rose, Bill Bellamy, Michael Ealy, Trae Ireland, Nick Cannon, Marlon Waylons, Robin Thicke, and O’Shea Jackson Jr.
The ADMAs award categories were somewhat unconventional with category names like Most Quoted Black Movie, the Best Black Survivor in a Movie. Sanaa Lathan the first winner of the evening for Best actress in her acceptance speech said, “I am a blacktress. It is so important for little boys and little girls of color to be reflected on screen.” Denzel Washington took home the Best Bad Mu#&a Award, while Christoph Waltz won Best Helpful White Person. Waltz did not attend, so Robin Thicke accepted on behalf of all white people joking, “Maybe we can change the world one helpful white person at a time.” Norman Lear received the Vanguard Award for being a pioneer in the industry providing television shows like Good Times, All in the Family and The Jeffersons.
Tyrese presented Will Smith with the Lifetime Achievement Award, and although Smith was not in attendance, he accepted his award in a video message, apologizing for missing the ceremony. With a smirk on his face, he said, “I am shooting a movie and Russell just called me three days ago. And the real reason why me and Jada couldn’t make it is because Russell wasn’t honoring enough white people,” he joked. Straight Outta Compton was the night’s biggest winner, taking home the award for Best Picture, chosen by fan vote. Beasts of No Nation, Chi-Raq, Concussion, Creed, and Dope were also nominated. Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan were both recognized as Best Director and Actor for Creed.
Other categories were quite hilarious as laughter soared through the room with happy hearts especially when Mike Epps and Snoop dog took the stage. Neither staying on script rolled out spontaneous joke after joke regarding their plights as special education students. When Simmons took the stage he received cheers and thunderous applause receiving a standing ovation. Though the evening was filled with bold black and white humor and sometimes unconventionally edgy material, the underlying message was the same challenging conventional wisdom to break down barriers, hoping to inspire the Hollywood entertainment community about equal inclusion for all races.