The distinguished recipients of this year’s Honorary honors from the 18th Annual Black Reel Awards feature a list of three all-time greats and one of the most provocative storytellers currently in cinema.
The Special Achievement Honorary Awards for the Black Reel Awards will be Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Cicely Tyson, and Jordan Peele. This distinguished class has collected a total of 40 nominations and 10 wins from our voting academy.
The Foundation for the Augmentation of African-Americans in Film (FAAAF) introduces four honorary awards, three for Career Achievement and the other for Entertainer of the Year. The award for career achievement in acting will be known as the Sidney Poitier Life Achievement Award, named for the iconic Oscar-winner who blazed a trail as one of the preeminent actors of his generation. The inaugural recipient is none other than Cicely Tyson.
Tyson, who began her career a year after Poitier, has created a plethora of memorable characters in her six-decade career. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor and was nominated for the Academy and Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress for her performance as Rebecca Morgan in Sounder. Tyson gained additional accolades for starring in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, for which she won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for a BAFTA Award. During her career she has been nominated for thirteen Primetime Emmy Awards, winning three.
Recently, Tyson has made appearances in several notable projects on screen and stage, including The Help, starred on Broadway in The Trip to Bountiful and returned to the screen this fall in the buddy-war drama, Last Flag Flying. She is a four-time Black Reel Award winner for Outstanding Television Actress, and Outstanding Television Movie both for producing A Trip to Bountiful, as well as two Outstanding Television Supporting wins for A Lesson Before Dying and The Rosa Parks Story.
This year’s nominee for career achievement in directing is also no stranger to Black Reel Award acclaimed, Spike Lee. Over the course of the first 17 years of the Black Reel Awards, Lee has received a staggering 30 nomination, the most in awarded to anyone in the history of the awards. A five-time Black Reel Award winner, Lee will receive the Oscar Micheaux Life Achievement Award named for the “father of Black Film.”
One of Hollywood’s most notable auteurs, Lee has produced over 35 films since 1983. He made his directorial debut in 1986 with She’s Gotta Have It (which he turned into a series for Netflix earlier this year), and has since directed such films as Do the Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X, The Original Kings of Comedy, 25th Hour, and Inside Man. In addition, Lee has acted in ten of his own films.
Lee’s movies have examined race relations, colorism in the black community, the role of media in contemporary life, urban crime and poverty, and other political issues from his perch at “Da World Headquarters of 40 Acres and Mule Filmworks located in the home of his beloved borough of Brooklyn. Lee has received two Academy Award nominations, a Student Academy Award and an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and won numerous other awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, an honorary BAFTA Award, an Honorary César and the 2013 Gish Prize.
This year’s recipient of the Ruby Dee Life Achievement for humanitarian career achievement has been influencing popular culture for over three decades, five-time Black Reel Award nominee and Black Reel Award-winning producer, Oprah Winfrey.
Over the course of her career, Oprah Winfrey has served and a variety of roles, media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. Beginning in 1986, Winfrey was the host of the show bearing her name, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated for 25 years. The media dubbed her the “Queen of All Media” and also the greatest black philanthropist in American history as well as one the most influential woman in the world.
Winfrey has given away about $400 million to educational causes and also has given over 400 scholarships to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. She was the recipient of the first Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at 2002 Emmy Awards for services to television and film. In 2013, Winfrey donated $12 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom later that same year.
This year’s Vanguard Award honoree is one of the industry’s rising stars, writer/director Jordan Peele. His directorial debut, the $4.5 million horror film, Get Out, was released in 2017 to critical acclaim and box-office success generating over $250 million, worldwide.
Before the success of his breakthrough film, Peele was best known for starring in the Comedy Central sketch series Key & Peele and for his five seasons as a cast member on Mad TV, Peele also had a recurring role in the first season of the FX anthology series Fargo. Peele will only be the third person honored with the Vanguard Award joining Jamie Foxx and Terrence Howard.
“We take great pride in saluting the work of this year’s distinguished honorees whose work has impacted all facets of the film and television industries over their careers by creating work that has engaged and challenged audiences while simultaneously spotlighted the issues important to us all,” said Black Reel Awards founder Tim Gordon.