Actor Morris Chestnut will be the face of the 18th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), which will be held June 19-22, 2014, in New York City, officials announced recently.
"It's an honor and privilege to be the ambassador of the ABFF, taking place this year in New York – a city that has inspired and cultivated so much great talent in all areas of film," Chestnut said in a statement.
As ambassador of the festival, Chestnut, of Best Man and Best Man Holiday fame, will help to promote the four-day event, which showcases films by and about people of African descent.
Author/producer Tonya Lewis Lee (The Watsons Go to Birmingham) will serve as the festival’s Host Committee chair.
Jeff Friday, ABFF founder and CEO of Film Life, which produces the festival, said both Chestnut and Lee are bright lights in the Black film industry and will be able representatives of the event.
"Morris Chestnut is a beloved and charismatic actor," Friday said in a statement. "The role of the ABFF Ambassador is to broaden public awareness of the festival as well as its mission, and you are about to see Morris everywhere with [the recent] release of The Best Man Holiday – a must-see!”
He added, “I deeply appreciate both Morris and Tonya's commitment to advance opportunities for Black artists in our industry."
In 1997, Friday conceived the ABFF as a means of opening up doors of opportunity for Black creators and actors in the television and film industry, which has been slow to diversify its ranks. Now, the event is considered a major channel for Black actors and directors to get a foothold into Hollywood.
The festival will be comprised of Hollywood premieres, indie films, a new Entertainment and Lifestyle Expo, celebrity conversations, master classes, film- and TV-focused panels, plus a comedy show and parties.
Friday said that with the slate of events and the moves to New York, he expects 30,000 visitors this year.
"It's going to be a great year," he said.
For a schedule of events, other information and tickets, visit: www.abff.com