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By Sydney Bucksbaum
April 07, 2021 at 10:00 AM EDT
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Michaela Coel and Andra Day are rising up.

EW has learned exclusively that both actors will be honored at the 2021 Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Film Festival. Coel (I May Destroy You) will receive the Fusion Achievement Award and Day ("Rise Up," The United States v. Billie Holiday) will be presented with the James Schamus Ally Award.

The five-day film festival — which showcases the work of queer and trans filmmakers of color — kicks off next week with panels, workshops, screenings, performances, a One Minute Movie Contest, and networking events, with Coel and Day receiving their honors at this year's hybrid festival drive-in events on Saturday, April 17.

The 2021 Fusion Achievement Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to LGBTQIA+ stories, arts, and media visibility. Past recipients of the award include Nisha Ganatra, Angela Robinson, Rose Troche, Wilson Cruz, Alec Mapa, Patrik-Ian Polk, Cheryl Dunye, Brickson Diamond, and Rikki Beadle-Blair.

I May Destroy You, THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
Credit: HBO; Takashi Seida/Paramount Pictures

"Coel's work in Chewing Gum, I May Destroy You, and more portray complex characters who have helped open the door for more empathetic conversations about the issues facing members of this QTBIPOC community," the festival's executive director Damien Navarro said in a statement. "Outfest Fusion believes that honoring one of the most incredible, talented, and inspiring voices and storytellers of our generation will inspire Outfest Fusion's Black creators, across all mediums, and also send a strong message within the industry that we need to include, support, and finance exponentially more independent voices."

The James Schamus Ally Award recognizes a great ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. "Too often in fictionalizing historic lives our LGBTQIA heroes remain closeted robbing our understanding of how complex their lives were and how long there has been a community supporting the fluidity of sexual desire," Navarro said. "Ms. Day's honest performance does not shy away from these truths. Her vulnerability and strength in Lee [Daniels'] film gives our community the historic dignity it deserves.''

The film festival will also host a Rising Stars panel featuring a roundtable discussion with five actors from the QTBIPOC community. The pre-recorded panel, moderated by Out magazine Editor-in-Chief David Artavia, will feature Harvey Guillén (What We Do In the Shadows), Shalita Grant (Search Party), Vico Ortiz (Vida), Ian Alexander (Star Trek: Discovery), and Sherry Cola (Good Trouble).

Additional guests and panels will be announced later on the website. All of the panels will be available for free beginning April 17 at 6 a.m. PT. 

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