The mainstream film festivals frequented by Hollywood—Sundance, Cannes, Toronto—have turned a blind eye to Black artists for years. So we had to take matters into our own hands.
Twenty-four years ago, following his first trip to the Sundance Film Festival, an inspired Jeff Friday took a blind leap of faith. Departing from his lucrative job as president of the prominent multicultural advertising agency UniWorld, Friday devoted his professional life to the American Black Film Festival (ABFF). Recognized today as the leading film festival of its kind, ABFF remains the premier platform that introduces filmmakers of color to the industry at large and has created opportunities for people of color outside of Hollywood’s doors by helping them find their inroad. To further ABFF’s legacy, in 2019, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History& Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. acquired ABFF photographs and other archival materials to be included in its permanent collection.
Friday is a successful producer of several live events, including the Pro Hollywood Bootcamp in partnership with the NFL. He has financed numerous independent films; created & executive produced television specials—Black Movie Awards (TNT), ABFF Honors (BET) and series—ABFF Independent and Icons, Idols & Influencers (ASPIRE); and recently produced the feature documentary Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn for HBO in partnership with Emmy and Oscar-winning production company Lightbox.
Jeff Friday currently serves as CEO of ABFF Ventures LLC (ABFFV), a multifaceted company specializing in the production of live events, television and films focused on African-American culture.