By Lynn Jones-Turpin – For more than 27 years in June, the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) has celebrated African Americans in the film industry in Miami Beach. The featured films, TV shows, shorts and documentaries exemplify the modern Black experience.
For at least 20 years, myself and Jax Free Press photographers and videographers have covered the five-day festival log of events. The confab features panels, screenings, talent competitions, movie premiers and the opportunity to interview and engage celebrities on their movie careers, views on Hollywood cultural opportunities and selfie’s for the fans.
The ABFF began in 1997 to provide a platform for up-and-coming Black actors to support and honor the Black entertainment community. Celebrities over the course of the decades include: Michael Jai White (Spawn), Keenan Ivory Wayans (Shame, In living Color), Robert Townsend (The Five Heartbeats), Will Packer (Girls Trip) and more! This year our interview list included actress, fashion designer and model Lisa Raye (Players Club), promoting her new TVOne show ‘Asking For A Friend,’ where two single-and-ready-to-mingle besties choose blind dates.
“I can say I’m now getting roles that are not the girl next door or sex symbol. I’m playing doctors, lawyers, wives and able to take lengthier roles. I’ve matured and I’m able to take on the roles that I thought I’d never get,” said Raye.
Also present was content creator Tabitha Brown. The self-made motivational speaker and spice creator now touts her colorful summer vegan food kitchen collection at Target.
“Shout-out to Duval – I’m family oriented and my journey is just a renewing of how God wanted my life to be and that’s my business,” smiled Tabitha.
The Miami Beach Convention Center, the New World Center and Miami’s historic Overtown Black Archives Lyric Theater were the locations for the events schedule.