2019 AFI Lifetime Achievement Ceremony: Denzel Washington Collects His Things; Beyoncé Honors Melina Matsoukas

Honoree Denzel Washington and Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal recipient Melina Matsoukas speak onstage during the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images for WarnerMedia)

Everyone who is anyone in Hollywood gathered to celebrate your favorite actor’s favorite actor Denzel Washington at the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award gala, presented by the American Film Institute, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

The star-studded guest list included Spike Lee, Antoine Fuqua, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Hudson, Mahershala Ali, Michael B. Jordan, Cicely Tyson, and Issa Rae.


“I’m humbled, I’m grateful, I’m thankful ... I’ve never done this before so I can’t really tell you how I feel,” the two-time Academy Award winner told ET Online. “It doesn’t feel like other times I’m on the red carpet. I’m usually promoting a film or at an award show. [Here] I’ve already won, I guess, so it’s different. It’s relaxed.”

Ever the Pauletta Washington stan, the 64-year-old actor did make a note to call his loving wife his personal “lifetime achievement.”

Additionally, filmmaker Melina Matsoukas (Insecure, Master of None) was honored with the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal, presented by her colleague and now friend, Beyoncé Knowles Carter, in a surprise appearance. Along with film and television, Matsoukas has made her name for herself in the music video game since 2005, working with artists such as Solange, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston, and more. She’s also helmed many of Beyoncé’s projects, including 2016’s hit “Formation.”

“After over a decade of collaborating with Melina, we’ve become family,” Bey said proudly as she presented the award. “In 2005, she managed to shoot five videos with me in three days, creating beautiful imagery with little to no budget. We’ve come a long way since those days.”


The presentation was a loving display of black sisterhood, with Bey also shouting out her upcoming film written by Lena Waithe, Queen & Slim, set to debut in November and starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith.


Matsoukas made history as the first woman of color to receive this particular honor. “It feels great,” she told Variety. “And I do hope that we’re starting to see change. With Queen & Slim, for example, here are two black women with creative control telling this story. We’re giving voice to people who have been unseen and unheard, and to those who have been silenced.”

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Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.