“We have to continue to fight to tell our stories our way, ” Quincy Jones preached to a filled ballroom at the Beverly Wilshire Monday night.
Many wise words were shared during the evening as The Paley Center honored the icon during its Hollywood Tribute to African-American Achievements in Television event. Even though Jerrod Carmichael received a wave of applause for his NBC show, the comic could not keep his composure after he followed the legendary music composer on stage.
“I know that I’m not supposed to say curse words, but that was Quincy f—ing Jones,” Carmichael said.
Diahann Carroll and Black Entertainment Television were also highlighted during the gala. The network, originally formed by Bob Johnson, was noted as the first black-owned company to be made public on the New York Stock Exchange.
Throughout the evening there were video montages of African-Americans in television by category: drama, sports, music, news and talk shows and comedy. The countless number of clips shown were only a taste of the Paley Center’s 160,000-strong archive that documented seven decades of African-American television memories.
Tyra Banks shared with Variety that many people don’t attribute her “America’s Next Top Model” to crowning Eva Marcille America’s first African-American reality competition winner in 2006.
“Our contribution is bigger than television — it’s beauty,” said Banks. “‘America’s Next Top Model’ was to expand the definition of beauty, not to have a modeling competition show.”
Bill Cosby was given kudos, despite recent criticisms, for being the first African-American lead actor on television in “I Spy” and later transforming the public persona of the African-American family with “The Cosby Show.”
“When we look at what made that show groundbreaking, in terms of where the humor was not predicated on being black, it transcended racial barriers and stereotypes,” said Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
“Power” exec producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson said that he also utilized the small screen to tell a different narrative.
“We wanted to make something that they hadn’t seen,” said Jackson. Showrunner Courtney Kemp Agboh agreed, “I try not to think of it as a black show, what we’re doing is telling a universal story.”
The long list of celebrities to attend the event included Louis Gossett Jr. Regina King, Anthony Anderson, Alfred Enoch, Yara Shahidi, Ice T, Debra Martin Chase, Diahann Carroll, Don Cheadle, Keegan-Michael Key, Rick Fox, S. Epatha Merkerson, Terrence Howard, Tyler Perry, Dulé Hill, Sean Patrick Thomas, Ava DuVernay, Brandy Norwood and Don Cheadle.