Fresh off a plane from Hollywood and on her way to Monte Carlo, actress Taraji P. Henson makes a surprising guest appearance at the invitation-only Cadillac and American Black Film Festival “Daring Greatly” lunch at The Chester restaurant located in the Gansevoort Hotel in New York’s Meatpacking District.
“Keeping us relevant is important. It means nothing if I have all this success and I don’t reach back. This is important,” Henson says of the honor of being the 2015 ABFF ambassador.
“My very first movie, Baby Boy, was screened in Acapulco [Mexico]. It was the very first time I experienced a movie I’m in being viewed by the public.
When ABFF was founded in 1997 to 2001, the “A” in ABFF, stood for Acapulco. ABFF is celebrating it’s 19th anniversary and was rebranded the American Black Film Festival when it moved to South Beach – Miami – in 2001.
“You are getting behind an incredible, important piece of this culture. I can’t wait to see Dope; its a lot of fresh faces in that [film]. How would the world know about us if we can’t tell the stories we want to tell,” Henson praises Jeff Friday, founder of the American Black Film Festival. “A lot of times, Hollywood won’t pick these stories up. I thank you Jeff. I thank you for all your efforts and for everything you do. You give artists who [otherwise] wouldn’t work in Hollywood a chance to showcase what they can do. That’s amazing. And, thank you. I know it’s not easy doing what you do. I can say you’re blessed. You’re doing something right.”
Friday shares, “Taraji, we all know her as a fantastic artist. We always knew [Taraji] was a gem. Thank you for taking the time to show your support for the community. People are really excited you are here.
“Three months ago, we were on Tom Joyner talking about Hollywood and the lack of diversity. I want you all to know when we started this, we were ahead of Hollywood’s diversity.
“Hollywood is bragging about its diversity now. Twenty years ago, television particularly, it wasn’t do diverse. There wasn’t a Taraji Henson, Kerry Washington and Viola Davis,” he continues.
Henson jokingly interjects, “Not all at the same time, we were in ones.”
“What else was happening along with the Cosby Show? That was it. There’s a huge renaissance on television. We’d like to think we opened people’s eyes … [now there are] people like Will Packer who has two shows coming out at the same time.”
Additionally, Cadillac announced their new partnership with ABFF.
“Cadillac is one our sponsors. We can’t do this alone. If Cadillac goes away, if HBO goes away … we’d go away. It’s really important we acknowledge them. You as media and we as consumers… it’s important we let these companies know what they do impact us and its important.”
“Thank you Cadillac…y’all know Cookie can sell some cars,” jokes Henson while slyly talking her way into a new Cadillac.
Tai Beauchamp, ABFF 2015’s host committee chairperson, chatted up her new show, which aired on Friday at 10 p.m. on TLC, “Dare to Wear,” where she transforms people’s wardrobes and lives.
Also in attendance was Butch Graves, chairman and CEO of Black Enterprise.
Friday concludes, “I am also very happy to mention we announced a partnership with Black Enterprise magazine. Butch Graves approached me about collaboration … he is probably the most collaborative person I know. His whole mantra is Black people need to work together so we can have some power base in business. We formed ABFF Ventures, a collaboration between my company, Film Life, and Black Enterprise; we’ve had a phenomenal year working with their team.”
ABFF is a four-day event from June 11 to 14, 2015.