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Karen Vaughn With Richard RoundTree At Indiana Black Expo

In July of 2023, the Iconic Richard Roundtree was awarded the Living Legend award in Indianapolis.

In 1971 Roundtree starred as John Shaft, Gordon Parks’ landmark film which is credited with launching the Blaxploitation genre. Shaft became the prototype of urban, classy, and effortlessly cool that was otherwise previously unseen on the movie screen.

During his acceptance speech, he credited Gordon Parks for his success and

“To be here to be honored as a legend, that’s heavy. Most of my legends are not here anymore.” Roundtree said. “When I think of legend, I think of Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Gordon Parks, who I owe my career to.”

Roundtree explains what the term ‘legend’ means in his eyes, while also gives flowers to today’s legends.

“Legend is a very heavy word. I think of people who are legends, who you look up to who guide and nurture and give service to our community.” Roundtree explained. “I look at legends like Denzel Washington, who his entire career has been about our community and nurturing and giving back and pulling up others”.

Watch the full acceptance speech below!

He also had time to speak to WTLC’s own Karen Vaughn after the ceremony in which she asked him to give some advice to actors who may feel stagnant.

“Don’t look back, keep your eyes focused on the future on moving ahead when I look at my hero’s the Denzel Washington of the world, to name just one of the Sam to keep your eyes looking forward and moving and stay constant, keep the energy up and keep working. That’s the, the number one way to survive this business. You have to keep it moving.”

Watch Richard Roundtree’s interview with Karen Vaughn below!

UPDATE: Karen Vaughn shares her words after hearing of the passing of Richard Roundtree.


It was a Sunday afternoon tradition in my household – movie day with Dad. We’d eagerly scour the Sunday paper’s movie schedule to find the week’s best flick. That’s where I first encountered the larger-than-life presence of Richard Roundtree as Shaft. Every frame was electrified with action, and we savored every moment. “He was a bad…shut yo month.”

Over the years, I’ve followed Roundtree’s journey on both the silver screen and TV, always greeted by that unmistakable sense of reassurance knowing that Shaft was on the scene. His presence brought a unique blend of strength, charisma, and wisdom to every role.

Fast forward to the pandemic era, and I rediscovered Roundtree on Netflix’s “Family Reunion.” Even in a family setting, he remained an imposing figure, imparting wisdom with the same magnetic charisma that made him an action hero legend.

This year, I had the honor of interviewing him during the IBE Summer Celebration. What do you ask someone who’s brought to life such an iconic character as SHAFT? I wanted to know about his legacy and how he’s managed to reinvent himself over the years.

His response was nothing short of priceless: “Don’t look back. Keep your eye on the future and looking ahead. Keep working!”

These words resonate deeply, reflecting a philosophy that propelled Roundtree through a career spanning decades. These words encapsulate the essence of a man who never rested on his laurels, had an unwavering commitment to growth, and always pushing forward…striving for more.

This week, we bid farewell to an icon and a true trailblazer. Richard Roundtree’s indelible mark on the world of film and entertainment will forever echo through the ages. Thank you, Mr. Roundtree, for the gift of your incredible work and your timeless words of wisdom. Your spirit will continue to inspire and uplift us all. Your legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.

Karen Vaughn With Richard RoundTree At Indiana Black Expo

Richard Roundtree Wins Living Legend Award At Indiana Black Expo July 2023  was originally published on