*All Def Digital (ADD), a multi-platform hip-hop and youth culture brand founded by Russell Simmons, will hold its first ever All Def Digital Awards at the end of the month, where industry legends Will Smith and Norman Lear will be honored.
The ceremony is in response to the lack of black actors nominated for Academy Awards this year. The ADD Awards will take place just days before the Oscars, with Chris Rock slated to host. Rock’s younger brother, actor/comedian Tony Rock, will host the All Def Digital Awards.
Page Six reports that “Smith will be recognized by the All Def Academy with the Lifetime Achievement Award and legendary writer, producer, director and social activist Norman Lear will receive the Vanguard Award.” Lear’s contributions to entertainment have helped foster an dialogues about race and race relations.
“Will Smith has broken all barriers in music, film, theater and television. As a Grammy Award-winner, television star and the most accomplished and bankable film artist in the world, Will uses his powerful voice for social change. The All Def Movie Awards are enormously proud to honor Will Smith and his incredible body of work with our first Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Russell Simmons, Founder and Chairman of All Def Digital.
Reflecting on the contributions of Norman Lear, Simmons added, “As a writer, director, producer and author, Norman has been a true champion for people of color. He shined a light on the marginalized in our society and made us laugh. He wrote aspirational and inspirational roles for minorities. He gave us dignity with “Good Times.” He gave the working class a voice in “Sanford and Son.” And most important to me, with “The Jeffersons,” he showed us that a black man could be rich and successful and do the unthinkable: he could curse at the white man while standing up for what he believes in.”
“Beasts of No Nation,” “Chi-Raq,” “Creed,” “Dope” and “Straight Outta Compton” are among the ADD nominees for best picture, which members of the public can vote for online through midnight on Feb. 23.
“I don’t expect a 90-year-old Academy member to see ‘Straight Outta Compton’ or vote for it,” said Simmons, who founded ADD in 2013. “I’m more concerned that in 2016 there continues to be a stunning lack of diversity in the studios, in the green light process, in the decisions of what films and television series get made, and what actors get chosen. This needs to be addressed institutionally. The All Def Movie Awards are not the Black Oscars, but they could be. This will be a fun, entertaining and hopefully thought provoking celebration of the uncelebrated.”
The ADD Awards take place Feb. 24 LIVE at the World Famous TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood.