Beyoncé Made a Surprise Appearance at Denzel Washington’s AFI Life Achievement Award Gala
She was there to support another friend and longtime collaborator.
We always welcome a Beyoncé sighting, but we certainly weren’t expecting to see her at Hollywood’s Dolby last night for the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award gala honoring actor Denzel Washington. Queen Bey appeared totally unfazed by the manufactured drama surrounding her recent courtside appearance on Thursday evening, dropping in to present her friend and longtime collaborator, director Melina Matsoukas, with AFI’s Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal.
“As a woman of color, conformity is not her thing,” the “Lemonade” singer said of Matsoukas, whose credits include the “Formation” music video as well as episodes of Master of None and Issa Rae’s Insecure. “She stays authentic to her roots and femininity in an industry dominated by men. Her drive, vision, taste level, and storytelling is boldly unapologetic.”
Bey’s cameo was the most unexpected, but there were plenty of big names on hand to fete the man-of-the-hour. From Spike Lee, who dubbed his Mo' Better Blues co-star “the G.O.A.T.” to Julia Roberts, who shared an inspiring letter of recommendation from one of Washington’s former college professors, the room included a wide range of talent and industry hard-hitters.
The honors also included remarks from former co-stars Jodie Foster and Morgan Freeman, colleagues Jamie Foxx, Issa Rae, Mahershala Ali, Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman, and a special performance from Jennifer Hudson. When legendary actress Cicely Tyson took the mic to commend the four decade-long relationship between Washington and his wife, Pauletta, Roberts found herself wiping away sentimental tears.
“Needless to say, Pauletta and Denzel have become a force in my life, to the point where they thought enough of me to name me the godmother of their first daughter Katia, whom I love dearly,” Tyson remarked. "They have survived the task of being together for 40 years, and have four of the most brilliant children. They’ve made it their business to put their family first, and that’s why they are still together."
When Washington finally got the chance to address the crowd, he gave props to his wife, who he referred to as, “the most important person in my life.”
“40 years of sacrifice, 40 years of forgiveness. She taught me about faith, spirituality, love – real, unwavering love, in spite of myself. I would not be alive without Pauletta Washington.”
Before beckoning to crowd to stand and give the mother of four a round of applause, the actor went on, saying: “Great musician, great singer, great mother, great wife. I ask you, please just to stand up.”
If that doesn’t make you believe in love, then nothing will!