Ava DuVernay to receive Melvin Van Peebles Trailblazer Award

Ava DuVernay to receive Melvin Van Peebles Trailblazer Award
Ava DuVernay (Photo credit: Bang Media)

Will Smith and Ava DuVernay will be honored at the fourth annual Critics Choice Association’s Celebration of Black Cinema & Television. The ceremony will be hosted by Niecy Nash on Dec. 6, 2021, at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

The Selma director will be honored with the inaugural Melvin Van Peebles Trailblazer Award in celebration of her achievements as an award-winning writer, director producer and film distributor. Van Peebles, the groundbreaking filmmaker behind such classics as Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song, died on Sept. 21, 2021. His son Mario Van Peebles will present the honor to DuVernay.

“We are truly honored to name our prestigious Trailblazer Award after Melvin Van Peebles. Van Peebles inspired a generation of filmmakers. He was a true maverick and a visionary cinematic genius,” Shawn Edwards, CCA board member and executive producer of the Celebration of Black Cinema & Television, told Variety in a statement.

Smith, who is already hearing Oscar whispers for his upcoming performance in “King Richard,” will receive the actor award for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis champions Venus and Serena. Jennifer Hudson will receive the actress award for her performance as Aretha Franklin in the biopic Respect.

The cast of the new Netflix western The Harder They Fall – which is comprised of Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, Deon Cole, R.J. Cyler, Edi Gathegi and Danielle Deadwyler, will take home the ensemble award.

Halle Berry, Anthony Anderson, Danielle Brooks and Kenan Thompson will be honored during the ceremony as well. The Critics Choice Association will present a total of 16 awards honoring achievements in Black film and television.

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