American Black Film Festival Announces 2022 Talks, Panels, and Top Line Talent for 26th ABFF – June 15-19, 2022

headshot collage of talent lineup

Issa Rae, Chanté Adams, Yahya Abdul- Mateen II, Kenya Barris, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Ben Crump, Michael Ealy, DeVon Franklin, Kasi Lemmons, Judge Greg Mathis, LisaRaye McCoy, Kyla Pratt, Trevante Rhodes, Kendrick Sampson, Robin Thede, Judge Lynn Toler, Susan Kelechi Watson, Salli Richardson Whitfield And More Topline Programming Slate For 2022 American Black Film Festival

Five-Day Fest Returns to Miami June 15-19, Followed by a Virtual Segment, June 20-30 Featuring a Mix of Conversations, Casting Calls, Networking Events and Live Streamed Content

LOS ANGELES, (June 7, 2022) – The first hybrid edition of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), now in its 26th year, will feature a robust slate of speakers including Kenya Barris, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Trevante Rhodes, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Kyla Pratt, Judge Greg Mathis, Naturi Naughton, DeVon Franklin and 2022 Festival Ambassador Issa Rae who will provide opening night welcome remarks and close out the festival with new series Rap Sh!t, as well as panels ranging from the business of Hollywood to spotlights on new films and television series. Regarded as one of the “nation’s largest community of Black film and television enthusiasts,” the festival will be held live June 15-19 and continue virtually June 20–30 on its custom-designed online platform ABFF PLAY https://abffplay.com/.

“We are thrilled to have the support of the industry with so much content targeted towards Black audiences. For 26 years, we have provided a platform for Black creatives to deliver provocative conversations and compelling entertainment to our community. This year’s ABFF will be no different with our live and virtual programming,” said Nicole Friday, President and General Manager, ABFF Ventures LLC.

Highlights include, The Leading Man panel sponsored by Cadillac will bring some of today’s most sought-after actors Michael Ealy (Fatale), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Candyman) and Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight) to the stage for a revealing discussion about their roles in Hollywood and how they have become leading men, moderated by Malinda Williams (The Wood); a conversation with trailblazing filmmakers Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Woman King), Kasi Lemmons (I Wanna Dance With Somebody) and Nicole Brown (President of TriStar Pictures) in Fierce Female Filmmakers of TriStar Pictures sit down to talk about their upcoming releases and a sneak peak of the films; Prime Video will present an intimate discussion on how Black women are leading the charge in creating content for all audiences to love in Leading from Within. The hit Peacock Original series Bel-Air: will showcase Clips and Conversations with the Co-Showrunner/Executive Producer Rasheed Newson and cast Adrian Holmes, Cassandra Freeman, Coco Jones, Akira Akbar, Jimmy Akingbola, and Jordan L. Jones; NBCUniversal will present Bust Down in Laughter with NBCU’s Comedy Crew with Sam Jay, Langston Kerman, Jak Knight and Chris Redd from Peacock’s “Bust Down” and Nicole Byer, Phil Augusta Jackson and Carl Tart from NBC’s “Grand Crew;” and in celebration of the final season of This Is Us, actress/writer Susan Kelechi Watson, writer/producer Eboni Freeman, and producer Christiana Hooks will give the audience a behind the scenes look at the episode, “Our Little Island Girl: Part Two.” During the Black Experience on Xfinity panel, series creator Andrea Lewis, Beauty Expert Kahlana Barfield Brown, natural hair entrepreneur Whitney White (aka@Naptural85) and producer CJ Faison will highlight Black women and their overall effect on the beauty industry in the upcoming docuseries The Black Beauty Effect; renowned filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira honors a beloved independent film advocate in A Champion of Independent Black Film: Celebrating the Legacy of Michelle Materre; a peak into Bounce’s Original series, Johnson and Finding Happy, with Clips and Conversation panels featuring the cast and producers; so you want to be a showrunner?; learn how from Robin Thede (Black Lady Sketch Show), Rikki Hughes (Dave Chappelle Sticks & Stones) and Randy Huggins (BMF) in Life of a Showrunner delivered by UPS. Prudential Financial brings their Cocktails, Conversations and Financial Facts with LisaRaye McCoy. Disney+ and NatGeo’s Drs. Ferguson and Hodges of hit series, Critter Fixers will offer the best tips to care for your pets during their Clips and Conversation. The Motion Picture Association (MPA) will discuss a finance plan for filmmakers’ creative content in Funding Your Story: The Nuts & Bolts of Film Finance; and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ leadership will discuss the Academy’s outreach outside of Oscar Sunday.

Not-to-be-missed events include, the 25th HBO Short Film Award Showcase hosted by Bevy Smith featuring five short films from emerging filmmakers who compete for the prestigious award; the ABFF Comedy Wings showcase hosted by Aida Rodriquez, and; The “Best of the ABFF Awards” where the 2022 independent film awards and talent contest winners will be presented.

ABFF’s talent discovery programs find emerging talent and introduce them to the entertainment industry. Included on this year’s lineup is the return of ALLBLK’s Shoot Your Shot Casting Call featuring the honorable Judge Lynn Toler (Commit or Quit) and the Warner Bros. Discovery Writers Competition. The live festival culminates with its annual ABFF Greater Miami Community Day in partnership with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitor’s Bureau as part of its commitment to inform, educate and provide opportunities to the local community about the entertainment industry. Community Day is free to South Florida residents.

Previously announced, the festival will open with the Netflix documentary CIVIL, an intimate verité look at the life of maverick civil rights attorney Ben Crump directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker Nadia Hallgren and produced by Kenya Barris, Roger Ross Williams and Lauren Cioffi.

All live events are held in and around South Beach including The Regal South Beach, the New World Center Performance Hall, the Bass Museum and the Black Archives Historic Lyric Theatre.

As part of its virtual talk series events, the lineup includes Life as Entrepreneurs about what it takes to build a family brand with Gia Casey and DJ Envy presented by Morgan Stanley, and; an intimate conversation with the cast of the new docuseries on E!, Mathis Family Matters featuring Judge Greg Mathis. Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion (GTDI) department will celebrate its five-year anniversary with Universal GTDI’s Five Years of Creative Impact. Lionsgate and Starz bring their Black executives for a Gate-Opening: Black Exec Round Table.

As previously announced the full feature, documentary and web series and spotlight screenings lineup is available here https://www.abff.com/miami/2022-screenings/narrative-features/. All virtual events are available on ABFF PLAY.

Following is the schedule of 2022 ABFF talk series events to date. For times, locations, and the latest information visit, www.ABFF.com

Live Events

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The NFT Masterclass for Creative
NFTs have risen as one of the hottest topics in the entertainment industry. Understanding the intellectual property issues in NFTs is essential to our protection and advancement. This session will address the ABCs of NFTs, including copyright, trademark, publicity issues, and tax matters surrounding NFTs. Instructed by Kimra Major-Morris, Attorney at Law.

Leading From Within
Presented by Prime Video
From the suffrage movement to the civil rights movement, history has shown us we all win when Black women lead. Join three Black women executives from Prime Video for an intimate discussion on how they are leading the charge to create content across series and features that all audiences will love.
Moderators: Latasha Gillespie (Head of DEI, Prime Video)
Panelists: Amber Rasberry (Sr. Executive Development, Movies – Amazon Studios), Lauren Anderson (Co-Head Content & Programming, Amazon Freevee) and Larissa Bell (Development Executive, Amazon St)

The Black Beauty Effect Panel
Presented by Black Experience on Xfinity
An intimate discussion on the global impact of Black Beauty in the upcoming docuseries, The Black Beauty Effect. This discussion will highlight black women and their overall impact in the beauty industry, despite its historical exclusion and oppression of black women.
Panelists: Andrea Lewis, Series Creator, Kahlana Barfield Brown, Beauty Expert, Whitney White, Natural Hair entrepreneur, CJ Faison, Executive Producer

Funding Your Story: The Nuts & Bolts of Film Finance
Presented by the Motion Picture Association
You can be a great storyteller and writer of words that captivate the masses. However, you can’t share that story with the world without having a financing plan in place to get the story made! In this panel, representatives from major studios and a lead film finance company will provide an overview of the variety of ways content creators can finance their production. As each panelist has a unique background in the film finance world, this panel will provide filmmakers with a basic understanding of what to expect when putting together a financing package.
Moderator: John Gibson, Vice President, External and Multicultural Affairs, Motion Picture Association
Panelists: Donyelle Marshall, LATAM Business & Tax Analyst, Florida Office of Film & Entertainment; Chiquita Banks, Esq., Sr. Vice President, TPC; Graham Lee, Esq., Vice President, Tax Counsel-Production, Paramount; Brian O’Leary, Esq., Sr. Vice President- Tax, NBCUniversal (Invited)

Bel-Air: Clips & Conversations
Presented by Comcast NBCUniversal
Peacock presents an intimate conversation with the cast members from BEL-AIR about celebrating Black on-screen characters and discussing story themes such as love, family, and relationships.
Moderator: Scott Evans
Panelists: Rasheed Newson, Adrian Holmes, Cassandra Freeman, Coco Jones, Akira Akbar, Jimmy Akingbola and Jordan Jones

Bust Down in Laughter with NBCU’s Comedy Crew
Presented by Comcast NBCUniversal
Join talent from NBCU’s hit comedies for a lively conversation about celebrating and shaping Black culture through stories of family, friendships, love and joy on TV.
Moderator: Danielle Young, Journalist and Host of Real Quick
Panelists: Nicole Byer, Phil Augusta Jackson and Carl Tart from NBCU’s “Grand Crew” and Sam, Jay, Langston Kerman, Jak Knight and Chris Red from Peacock’s “Bust Down”

Shoot Your Shot
Presented by ALLBLK
ALLBLK, the first and largest streaming service for Black TV and film from AMC Networks, is partnering with the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) to kick off a nationwide casting call for the co-star of its latest original production, “Judge Me Not.” A new hour-long psychological/legal drama created by TV icon, Judge Lynn Toler. “Judge Me Not” focuses on a millennial Black female attorney navigating mental health issues, a rocky romantic relationship and a volatile family, who shocks everyone when she wins a judicial seat at 31. Once there, she fights her demons while managing the chaos of a busy court.

25th Annual HBO Short Film Award Showcase
Presented by Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO
Five finalists will compete in ABFF’s HBO® Short Film Award. The prestigious showcase will celebrate 25 years of HBO’s commitment to recognizing the next generation of diverse, artistic and creative talent at ABFF. This year’s groudbreaking directors with diverse style of filmmaking are: Sherif Alabede (Another Country), Elisee Junior St Preux (Aurinko in Adagio), Gia-Rayne Harris (Pens & Pencils), Destiny J. Macon (Talk Black) and Rebecca Usoro (The Family Meeting)

Friday, June 17, 2022

Masterclass: Legal Aspects of Indie Filmmaking
Presented by Arrington & Phillips
This seminar will introduce filmmakers to the legal and business aspects of independent filmmaking. From conception to distribution, attendees will learn all the basics needed to make, produce and distribute their own independent film. Instructed by Marvin Arrington and Vince Phillips.

Johnson: Clips & Conversations
Presented by Bounce TV
Join the cast and producer of Johnson for a conversation around the anticipated return of season 2. Johnson focuses on life-long best friends and their sometimes-complicated journey of love, friendship, heartbreak, and personal growth as told from the Black male perspective. The show is executive produced by Eric C. Rhone and Cedric The Entertainer’s A Bird & A Bear Entertainment.
Moderator: David J. Hudson, Head of Original Programming for Scripps Networks
Panelists: Deji LaRay (series creator & show runner); Thomas Q. Jones (show runner, “P- Valley,” “Luke Cage”); Philip Smithey (“Switched at Birth,” “The Rookie”); and Derrex Brady (“NCIS,” “First”) with Earthquake (“The Neighborhood,” “Chappelle’s Home Team – Earthquake: Legendary”) and Eric C. Rhone (executive producer)

Finding Happy: Clips & Conversations
Presented by Bounce TV
Meet the cast of Bounce’s newest series, Finding Happy, a show created about, for and by Black women. The dramedy follows Yaz Carter as she navigates her loving-but-complicated family, her stagnant career, and a merry-go-round of unrequited love as she looks to find her happy. The show is executive produced by Eric C. Rhone and Cedric The Entertainer’s A Bird & A Bear Entertainment.
Moderator: Keisha Taylor Starr, Chief Marketing Officer for Scripps Networks
Panelists: B. Simone (MTV’s “Wild ‘n Out”); Kim Coles (“Living Single”); Marketta Patrice (“Black Jesus”); Angela Gibbs (“Hacks,” “The Fosters”); and, Kendra Jo (series creator & show runner)

A Champion of Independent Black Film: Celebrating the Legacy of Michelle Materre
Presented by Meta
Michelle Materre, prolific film distributor, professor, curator, and fervent supporter of women and BIPOC filmmakers, passed away in March. To honor her decades as a champion of independent film and her mission to lift the voices of underrepresented people in cinema, ABFF and Daughters of Eve Media will present a roundtable discussion featuring trailblazing and renowned women filmmakers.
Moderators: Terri Bowles and Dr. Michele Prettyman
Panelist: Ayoka Chenzira

Fierce Female Filmmakers of TriStar Pictures
Presented by Sony Pictures Entertainment
Join three trailblazing fierce, female, filmmakers – Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball), Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou), and Nicole Brown (TriStar Pictures President) for an intimate sit-down conversation as they open up about their highly anticipated Sony Pictures releases: The Woman King starring Viola Davis, and the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody starring Naomi Ackie. This conversation will dive into the importance, power and future of Black film while providing a sneak peek of what audiences can expect in their upcoming releases via exclusive content.
Moderator: Brett King, Vice President, Creative Programming, Diversity & Inclusion for Sony Pictures Entertainment
Panelists: Nicole Brown, President of TriStar Pictures; Kasi Lemmons, Director, I Wanna Dance with Somebody; Gina Prince-Bythewood, Director, The Woman King

Flipping the Script: Defining your own Path to Success presented by Warner Bros. Discovery Equity and Inclusion
Presented by Warner Bros. Discovery
Over the last few decades, the road to stardom and success in Hollywood has changed significantly. With the emergence of the digital age, social media and waves of new talent, many are finding success, their own way and on their own terms. This engaging and motivating panel discusses the impact of breaking into the entertainment industry both traditionally and non-traditionally; and ways to stay relevant in an ever-changing production landscape that is no longer one size fits all.
Moderator: Karen Horne, Senior Vice President, Warner Bros. Discovery, Equity + Inclusion
Panelists: Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Winning Time and The Gilded Age, HBO), Carlos King (Love & Marriage Franchise, OWN), Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins (Trials to Triumphs Podcast, OWN), Bashir Salahuddin (South Side, HBO Max), Diallo Riddle (South Side, HBO Max). Networking Reception to follow. RSVP and COVID vaccination required.

“This Is Us”: From Script to Screen
Presented by Comcast NBCUniversal
Go behind the scenes of NBC’s beloved drama “This Is Us” with actress/writer Susan Kelechi Watson, writer/producer Eboni Freeman and producer Christiana Hooks. Delve into a poignant conversation about the final season and the episode “Our Little Island Girl: Part Two” that is centered on Beth Pearson and was co-written by Susan and Eboni. Learn about the show’s unique approach to bringing multidimensional narratives to life by reflecting on the past, inspiring the future, and creating beautiful stories that transcend generations.
Moderator: Danielle Young, Journalist and Host of Real Quick
Panelists: Susan Kelechi Watson, Actress/Writer; Eboni Freeman, Writer/Producer; Christiana Hooks, Producer

Life Of A Showrunner
Presented by UPS
This panel examines the road to becoming a television showrunner, the duties and demands it entails, career strategies to be considered, the parameters of creative control as well as the freedom it affords, and what running a writers room looks like.
Panelists: Robin Thede (A Black Lady Sketch Show), Rikki Hughes (The Hype), Randy Huggins (BMF)

ABFF Comedy Wings Showcase
Presented by Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO
A night of laugher hosted by Aida Rodriquez and introducing: Marshall Brandon, Cherie Danielle, Shanna Christmas, Rob Gordon, and Alan Massenburg

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Academy 365
Presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a 95-year-old organization that has long been known for the Oscars, often called “Hollywood’s biggest night.” But what goes on the other 364 days of the year? In this panel, key leadership shares how the Academy engages their membership of over 10,000 members on a year-round basis and leads industry initiatives that celebrate the history of film, amplifies its global community of artists and advocates for increased representation across the industry.
Moderator: Scott Evans, Access Hollywood
Panelists: DeVon Franklin, Governor-at-Large; Christine Simmons, COO, Academy; Shawn Finnie, EVP, Member Relations & Awards, Academy; Meryl Johnson, VP, Digital Marketing, Academy

Best of ABFF Awards Presentation
Hosted by Dondré Whitfield
Join us for the announcement of the festival winner of this year’s competitions including: Best Narrative Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, John Singleton Award for Best First Feature, Best Documentary, Best Web Series and HBO Short Film Award. This event will be live-streamed on ABFF PLAY

Cocktails, Conversations, and Financial Facts with LisaRaye McCoy
Presented by Prudential Financial
Actress and Entrepreneur LisaRaye McCoy will share her journey with money, finances, and setting financial goals from her life on the South Side of Chicago to her life in the film industry. Prudential financial professionals will be available to answer financial questions.
Moderator: Delvin Joyce (Prudential Financial Planner & Founder of Prosperity Wealth Group)

The Leading Man
Presented by Cadillac
A panel of esteemed male actors examine the images of Black men in film and television, share stories about their journeys to success and discuss the messages they wish to convey to boys and young men in the community.
Moderator: Malinda Williams
Panelists: Trevante Rhodes, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Michael Ealy

Critter Fixers: Clips & Conversation
Presented by Disney+
Join veterinarians Dr. Terrence Ferguson and Dr. Vernard Hodges as they discuss some of their most unique animal cases and provide great tips and techniques to help care for your pets.
Moderator: Jill Tracey, Morning Show Co-Host on WHQT Hot 105 Miami
Panelists: Dr. Terrence Ferguson, Dr. Vernard Hodges

Closing Night Screening
Rap Sh!t

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO Max
Rap Sh!t follows two estranged high school friends from Miami, Shawna and Mia, who reunite to form a rap group.
Cast: Aida Osman (Shawna), KaMillion (Mia), Jonica Booth (Chastity), Devon Terrell (Cliff,) RJ Cyler (Lamont)
Executive Producer/Writer: Issa Rae (for HOORAE); Executive Producer/Showrunner: Syreeta Singleton; Executive Producer: Montrel McKay (for HOORAE); Executive Producers: Dave Becky and Jonathan Berry (for 3 Arts Entertainment); Executive Producer: Deniese Davis
Hip hop duo Yung Miami and JT of City Girls serve as co-executive producers, along with Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas for Quality Control Films and Sara Rastogi for HOORAE. Sadé Clacken Joseph directed the pilot. Rae’s audio content company Raedio will handle music supervision for the series.

Sunday, June 18, 2022

ABFF Community Day
Sponsored by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB)
The festival, in partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, presents a day of entertainment curated for family audiences.

Virtual Events available on ABFF PLAY https://abffplay.com/

Life As Entrepreneurs
Presented by Morgan Stanley
A discussion exploring what it takes to build a family brand, the importance of being financially literate, and the value of building generational wealth.
Panelists: Husband and wife team DJ Envy and Gia Casey

Mathis Family Matters
Presented by Comcast NBCUniversal
E! Entertainment presents an intimate conversation with the cast of E!’s new docuseries, “Mathis Family Matters” about representation, the black family on television today, their personal experiences and perspectives around diversity both in front of and behind the camera. To further the dialogue regarding unscripted television, they will exchange thoughts on the importance of Black producers ensuring that our stories aren’t overlooked and we are represented equally in today’s diverse culture.
Moderators: Ebony Magazine
Panelists: Judge Greg Mathis, Linda Mathis, Jade Mathis, Camara Mathis, Greg Mathis Jr., Amir Mathis

Universal GTDI’s Five Years of Creative Impact
Presented by Comcast NBCUniversal
In celebration of Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion (GTDI) 5-year anniversary, this panel spotlights friend-of-GTDI director Jude Weng, accompanied by four incredible alumni who have participated in GTDI’s flagship programs. Moderated by Rotten Tomatoes Awards Editor Jacqueline Coley, this panel aims to highlight the participants’ journeys towards establishing a career in the industry, as well as provide their perspective on how they view representation and access in the industry.
Moderators: Jacqueline Coley
Panelists: Jermaine Stegall, Juel Taylor, Jude Weng, Marielle Woods

Gate-Opening: Black Exec Round Table
Presented by Lionsgate and Starz
A candid conversation with Black development executives at Lionsgate and Starz demystifying the studio system, providing helpful guidance and insight into the initial development stages to support rising Black filmmakers.
Moderator: Kamala Avila-Salmon – Head of Inclusive Content at Lionsgate
Panelists: Kathryn Tyus-Adair, Senior Vice President of Original Programming at Starz, Jade-Addon Hall, Vice President of Current Series at Lionsgate TV, Aaron Edmonds, Vice President of Production and Development at Lionsgate

ABFF 2022 sponsors and partners to date include Warner Bros. Discovery & HBO® (Founding); Cadillac, City of Miami Beach, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), Sony Pictures Entertainment, Prime Video (Presenting); American Airlines, Comcast NBCUniversal, Meta, Bounce TV, Black Experience on Xfinity, UPS, IMDb (Premier); ALLBLK, Prudential Financial, Variety, TV One, Netflix, Starz, Disney+, Onyx Collective (Official); Accenture, Motion Pictures Association (MPA), A&E, The SpringHill Company, The Boston Globe, Color Of Change, Confluential Films, Arrington & Phillips, Fulton Films, BET Her, Morgan Stanley, Miami Beach VCA, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Supporting); Endeavor Content and DC Office of Television (Industry).

For festival information and to obtain an ABFF pass on site, visit www.abff.com. Follow @ABFF on Twitter and @AmericanBlackFilmFestival on Instagram and Facebook.

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event dedicated to recognizing Black talent and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. Dedicated to the belief that diverse artists deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts, ABFF founder Jeff Friday conceived the festival in 1997 as a vehicle to strengthen the Black entertainment community by fostering resource sharing, education and artistic collaboration. Now in its 26th year, the festival has become a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood, providing a platform for emerging Black artists – many of whom have become today’s most successful actors, producers, writers, directors and stand-up comedians. The ABFF is a property of ABFF Ventures LLC, an entertainment company specializing in the production of live events that promote Black culture and achievement.

Media Contact:

Chelsye J. Burrows
Jeff Friday Media (JFM) and ABFF Ventures LLC
[email protected]