‘The Woman King’ Director Gina Prince-Bythewood Honored at Icon Mann Gala
On March 8, the eighth annual Icon Mann Honors paid tribute to “The Woman King” director Gina Prince-Bythewood, who was lauded for her hallmark filmmaking and for inspiring culture by breaking new ground in cinema.
Striving for a better future in the arts, she addressed the audience that gathered at the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills.
“I have always believed our greatness is reflected in our work and the ways that we show the world the incredible breadth of our humanity.”
The driving force for her career was further described during her acceptance speech. “From the beginning, I tell stories of Black women and girls and reframe the narrative of who we are and what we can be. I want us to look up on the screen and see ourselves reflected in a way that inspires us and that we can aspire to be. And I’m proud of the Black men that I’ve centered in my work.”
Icon Mann founder and CEO, Tamara Houston, spoke to Variety about the importance of the event as well as the thriving community the organization has built over the years.
“When you look at our room tonight you see we have allies and advocates here from across all sectors who believe in what we’re doing with working towards positive imaging of the African diaspora,” she said. “As far as the content that is created by Black creators and filmmakers, it travels beyond American borders. It registers internationally. I think that we’ve made a lot of progress, but I also think clearly there is more to be done. But now it’s less about a push for inclusion and more about saying let’s just be inclusive.”
The undeniable impact of fellow honorees including director and producer Reginald Hudlin and Uzodinma Iweala, CEO of the Africa Center NYC and author of “Beasts of No Nation,” was felt throughout the prolific night.
During the dinner, a surprise video salute from Vice President Kamala Harris excited the packed ballroom who broke out their cell phones to capture her moving message. She championed their cause and brought focus to entertainment industry titan Hudlin.
During the dinner, a surprise video salute from Vice President Kamala Harris excited the packed ballroom who broke out their cell phones to capture her moving message. She championed their cause and brought focus to the entertainment industry titan, Hudlin.
“For decades, I have witnessed and seen Reggie as not only a member of my extended family, but the reason that you will have seen him as a writer and director and producer,” she stated. “Through movies and TV shows and comic books, Reggie has brought joy and inspiration to millions of people. Reggie has a unique gift to connect us with the giants of our past such as Justice Thurgood Marshall to the great Sidney Poitier and to connect us to our future. Reggie possesses such incredible vision, a vision shared with the pages of his “Black Panther” comics, a vision that has inspired so many of us over the years.”
Taking the stage to accept his trophy, the “House Party” and “Marshall” producer elevated the crowd’s thrilled vibe with a single sentence: “I just think overall we need to dream bigger.”
Notable attendees and presenters at the ceremony included Disney General Entertainment chairman Dana Walden, Kat Graham, Ernie Hudson, Nicole David, Jimmy Akingbola, Judge Greg Mathis, Van Jones, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Shaman Durek and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences executive VP of member relations and awards, Shawn Finnie.
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