Jamie Foxx Honored by Leonardo DiCaprio at American Black Film Festival Honors

Leonardo DiCaprio and Morgan Freeman made surprise appearances at the American Black Film Festival Honors ceremony on Sunday night.

The “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” actor presented Jamie Foxx with the excellence in the arts award while Freeman announced the movie of the year, which went to “Just Mercy.”

Hosted by comedian Deon Cole, the American Black Film Festival Honors also feted Lena Waithe, Cynthia Erivo, Louis Gossett Jr. and the cast of “The Wire.”

“Jamie becomes the life and soul of every single party and absolutely everything he does. Jamie gives it his all,” DiCaprio said as he introduced Foxx. The honoree gave an impromptu performance of his 2008 hit single “Blame It on the Alcohol.” Foxx gushed over his “Django Unchained” co-star’s hip-hop knowledge and incredible work ethic. “I love you, man. You are my friend. You are my colleague and this means the world,” Foxx said.

On Sunday night’s honor and his NAACP win, the actor told Variety, “The most important thing is — I tell people all the time — if I don’t have my black audience, I don’t have nothing. To be honored by us means everything. Like last night, when I went on stage and I spoke, to be able to get that reaction from them is everything for me… It’s always beautiful being honored by your own.”

Bryan Stevenson accepted the movie of the year award for “Just Mercy,” the Warner Bros. drama about the early days of his legal career representing death row inmates who were wrongly accused and convicted.

“There is work to do,” Stevenson said. “My grandfather was enslaved and he learned to read, even though he was enslaved and it might have cost him his freedom. He learned to read because he believed in one day he’d be free. He had this belief that things would get better. My grandmother was terrorized in the American South. She fled the South because of lynching and racial terror. She went to the North because she believed that things would get better. My parents lived through the degradation of segregation and they still found a way to love one another and create somebody like me because they believed things could get better.”

He continued, “I hope we believe things could get better because there is still too much injustice, there is still too much unfairness, there is still too many people being pushed down. There’s still too many people being marginalized. There’s still too much bigotry and injustice and racism in this country… I hope we are not satisfied to be in this place tonight when there is inequality and injustice all around, but we have work to do.”

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