February 4-17, 2025
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Bill Duke

PAFF to Present Bill Duke with Ja’Net DuBois Lifetime Achievement Award

The Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) is thrilled to announce that actor/director Bill Duke will accept The Ja’Net DuBois Lifetime Achievement Award during its Centerpiece on Thu., Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. PAFF’s Centerpiece will feature the red carpet world premiere of the Ethiopian war film “For the Love of the Motherland.” Tickets are on sale at paff.org.

“Presenting Bill Duke with the Ja’Net DuBois Lifetime Achievement Award is not just a celebration of his extraordinary career in film, but a recognition of his unwavering commitment to portraying diverse narratives and empowering marginalized voices,” said PAFF co-founder Ayuko Babu. “His groundbreaking work has left an indelible mark on the industry, inspiring generations of filmmakers and actors to strive for excellence and authenticity. Bill Duke’s contributions transcend the screen, embodying the spirit of Ja’Net DuBois herself, whose legacy of artistry and activism continues to inspire and uplift us all.”

Originally the Pan African Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, but renamed after the late “Good Times” actress and co-founder of PAFF, The Ja’Net DuBois Lifetime Achievement award holds immense significance within the Black entertainment industry and beyond, serving as a beacon of recognition for individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the arts, culture, and society at large. Named in honor of the iconic actress, singer, and humanitarian, Ja’Net DuBois, this award celebrates a lifetime of creativity, innovation, and dedication to one’s craft. It not only commemorates the outstanding achievements of its recipients but also highlights their enduring impact on audiences, communities, and future generations. Through honoring individuals who have left an indelible mark on the world through their talent, advocacy, and philanthropy, the Ja’Net DuBois Lifetime Achievement award inspires others to strive for excellence and use their talents to make a positive difference in the world. Past recipients have included Beah Richards (2000), Danny Glover (2003), Melvin Van Peebles (2004), and Alfre Woodard (2017).

Bill Duke is an actor, director, producer and humanitarian in Hollywood, with more than 40 years of experience on-screen and behind the camera. His acting credits include recent television and feature film roles on HBO Max. Mr. Duke appeared in “No Sudden Move” with Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Brandon Frazier, and Julia Fox. He was also in Starz “Gaslit” with Julia Roberts and Sean Penn, Tyler Perry’s “The Oval,” “Black Lightning,” the critically acclaimed “Mandy,” and the highly lauded Stephen Soderbergh film “High Flying Bird”. Bill Duke is known worldwide for roles in “Predator,” “American Gigolo,” “Car Wash,” “Action Jackson,” “Commando,” “Menace II Society,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Get Rich or Die Tryin,” “X-Men 3,” “Henry’s Crime,” “The Big Bang,” “Starsky & Hutch,” “Karen Sisco,” and “Lost”.
Bill is legendary for his directing prowess and agility in television and film as the first Black director on numerous television shows. His credits for film and television include, “Falcon Crest,” “Dallas,” “Knots Landing,” “Fame,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Miami Vice,” and PBSʼ “The Killing Floor” for which he won the Sundance Special Jury Award in 1985, just to name a few.

The accolades continued with a feature film directorial debut in 1991 for “A Rage in Harlem,” which was an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival for the prestigious Palme dʼOr. This global recognition led to further opportunities including directing feature more feature films and documentaries: “Sister Act 2,” “Deep Cover,” “Hoodlum,” “The Cemetery Club,” “Not Easily Broken,” “Deacons for Defense,” and the documentaries “Dark Girls” and “Light Girls”.

“Dark Girls” aired on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network and succeeded as one of the most successful programs on the network.

Most recently, Bill directed the feature film, “Created Equal” and was featured in the documentaries, “What is a Man,” and “What is a Woman”. He’s currently working on several film and TV projects. Bill’s autobiography, “Bill Duke: My 40-Year Career on Screen and Behind the Camera” was released in November 2018. He also authored “The Journey: Tale of Human Healing” and “Works of the Invisible Man”.

Throughout the course of his career, Bill Duke has been recognized by prestigious leaders and institutions for his work in television and film. He was appointed to the National Endowment of Humanities by President Bill Clinton and the Board of the California State and Film Commission by Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has also served on the Board of Trustees at the American Film Institute and as the Time Warner Endowed Chair in the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at Howard University. He was also recognized by his peers with a Lifetime Achievement Tribute from the Directors Guild of America’s African- American Steering Committee in 2010. In May of 2022, Bill was honored at The Jonathan Foundation for Learning Disabilities Gala for being an entertainment legend and humanitarian. On June 20, 2022, Bill was honored to be in the Kingdom Day Parade with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. November 19, 2022, Bill gained another honor at the 11th Annual “I’ve Known Rivers Film Festival when he received the Living Legend Award along with a Certificate of Appreciation from the California Assembly.

In addition to working on creative projects in Hollywood, the multi-hyphenate superstar has added another sobriquet to his long list of titles–digital network owner. On May 9, 2022, the YOUNITE Network launched, and will morph into a global media force, with global initiatives in the works. Bill also created Duke Media Entertainment to bring quality “Edutainment” to audiences around the globe. He coined the word to symbolize entertainment that also includes an educational element for the audience. Formerly Yagya Productions, Duke Media has successfully produced critically acclaimed film and television content for more than 30 years.

Additionally, Duke Media is in process of expanding its brand through the development of new media technologies, i.e. cellphone apps, games, and virtual/metaverse world experiences. Since the early 70s, Bill Duke along with industry veterans Michael Shultz and Gordon Parks, have long paved the way for the furtherance of African American actors, writers, directors, and producers in the entertainment and technology industries. Bill Duke has taught the fundamentals of acting to many young aspiring thespians which includes some of today’s superstars such as Taraji P. Henson, Anthony Anderson, Shemar Moore, LisaRaye McCoy, Kevin Carroll, Monica Calhoun, Chris Spencer and Emayatzy Corinealdi.

Giving back has been a large part of Bill’s Hollywood legacy. He runs the Duke Media Foundation, which for the last ten years has prepared youth for the future by exposing them to specific new media and financial literacy tools. This will enable them to compete, survive, and thrive. The economy is experiencing a paradigm shift far beyond film and TV to media. Film and TV are still important parts of the entertainment landscape. However, new media content has become a dominant force to be reckoned with. Bill encourages students to explore and master new technology as it emerges and evolves.


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