Jamie Foxx has won a plethora of major awards including an Oscar and Grammy. But after the African American Film Critics Association recognized him Jan. 22, the actor-singer called its honor just as special.
Foxx along with Eddie Murphy and Jordan Peele were among some of the honorees at the 11th annual ceremony in Los Angeles.
"People say so much about the other awards, but it's special when it comes from your own people," said Foxx, who won best supporting actor for his role in "Just Mercy."
"It's just special," he said after receiving the award from the organization, which actively reviews films with an emphasis on projects that include the Black experience. The awards mainly highlight films produced, written, directed and starring people from the African diaspora along with other ethnic projects that break new ground.
“The reason that this was so special to me is because it was personal,” said Foxx. "Just Mercy" follows a young lawyer ( Micheal B. Jordan) who gets wrongly accused men off death row. “My father who raised me, they put him in jail for $25 of illegal substances for seven years. What they don’t understand is that my father taught me how to play football, taught me how to play basketball … he taught me how to play tennis. I said why am I doing what white people do? He said ‘I don’t want you to be limited.’ But when they put him in jail … and the judge that presided over his case … they put him in jail right next to some of the kids he taught.
“I told him I don’t like going to jail .. so I can’t come visit you because I see you as a king. I wrote him one letter. And when he did get out, he’s lived with me now for 20 years. On top of that, I got a chance to take him to the US Open and he got a chance to watch Venus and Serena play and he sat there with tears down his cheek. He got to see this movie and he was moved by it.”
Oscar contender "Parasite," a South Korean thriller, won two awards for best screenplay and foreign film, sharing the honor with "Atlantics," a Senegalese love story.
Through his translator, "Parasite" director Bong Joon Ho said African Americans played a big role for him while studying cinema during college in South Korea. He said he used to create his own subtitles to Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" and "Jungle Fever."
"At the time, my English wasn't that good, so subtitling it was quite an experience," Bong said. "I had no idea there was various curse words in the English language. Thanks to Spike Lee, I learned so many things."
Bong said he finally met Lee at an award show a couple weeks ago. The director took a picture with Lee, but didn't get a chance to tell him about how he subtitled his films in college.
"If any of you guys are acquainted with him, please tell him I would like to get in touch with him," his translator said as the audience burst into laughter.
After Bong left the stage, Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter — who has worked with Lee for more than 20 years — said she could put the two directors in touch with each other.
Murphy was not in attendance, but he won for best actor for his role in Netflix's "Dolemite Is My Name."
For a second time, a film directed by Peele won the AAFCA award for best picture. His movie "Us," starring Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke, won the show's top honor.
"For my second project, the whole question was 'What are you going to do?' I knew that I wanted to bring something different, something that people weren't expecting," said Peele, who also won for best director. In 2018, his film "Get Out" took home the award for best picture.
"I wanted to take a risk," he continued. "It means so much to me to be acknowledged for this huge risk, this huge swing. ... This encourages myself and a whole lot of other people to take big swings."
Music exec Clarence Avant was honored with the game changer award. The Netflix documentary "The Black Godfather," which depicts Avant's story, was named best documentary.
Matthew Cherry, who earned his first Oscar nomination for "Hair Love," took home the award for breakthrough director.
"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" director Peter Ramsey said Cherry "struck a nerve" with his animated short film, which delved into a story about an African-American father who learns how to style his daughter's hair for the first time.
"It's important to honor each other, especially when groundbreaking film making is happening," Cherry said. "It's been happening since the beginning of cinema, so it's really important that we honor each other."