February 16, 2017
By Brandon I. Brooks
The 48th NAACP Image Awards took place Saturday February 11, in Pasadena, California at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Stars came out dressed to impress as the red carpet was full of the biggest and brightest that Black Hollywood has to offer.
The award ceremony was broadcast live on TV One with the majority of awards being announced during a non-televised gala. Nine categories were showcased during the telecast which was hosted by television star Anthony Anderson, star of the hit sitcom, “Black-ish.”
“Black-ish,” had a great night taking home six NAACP Image awards most notably, Outstanding Comedy Series. Anderson took home the trophy for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series, and co-star Tracee Ellis Ross, took home the award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. Laurence Fishburne won for Outstanding Supporting Actor. Marsai Martin won for Outstanding Performance by Youth, and Kenya Barris won for Outstanding Writer in a Drama Series.
The other big winner in television was Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay’s hit series “Queen Sugar,” which took home the award for Outstanding Drama Series.
DuVernay did not attend the Image awards as she was in New Zealand filming a new film, “A Wrinkle in Time.” She did however share her joy via social media tweeting, “On the other side of the world, smiling from ear to ear, watching QUEEN SUGAR be crowned. Thx, @NAACP, Feels Lovely!”
The L.A. Watts Times caught up with the cast of “Queen Sugar,” backstage after the win and asked the cast about, “how important is diversity being that this show represents so many characters that we normally don’t see from actors and actresses of color, how important was it for you all to take this on and highlight this and showcase this?”
“I think as performers of color and actors of color…we are always hungry for images that are authentic and complex that tell stories that feel layered instead of one dimensional,” said actress Dawn-Lyen Gardner, who plays Charley Bordelon West in “Queen Sugar”.
“To be able to contribute to a story and a vision really, because it was Ava’s and Oprah’s vision of a story like this, it’s really beyond, it’s a dream come true and it really does like that responsibility is increased now. I think one of the ways that the art of storytelling makes impact is to insist on complexity and insist on authenticity and when you have people that look like the rainbow, who are that, then the world begins to see themselves differently and we begin to expand our idea of who we are. So, I think it’s really an honor to be part of it and its really an honor to be acknowledged.”
Other notable television winners were superstar actress Taraji P. Henson of “Empire,” taking home the Image award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series, and Sterling K. Brown, star of “This is Us,” took home the Image award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series.
“It’s been a good year for people of color in front of the camera,” said Brown during his acceptance speech on stage. “The NAACP has always recognized our work.”
Henson had arguably the biggest night for any individual star snagging two more awards in the motion picture category for the groundbreaking movie “Hidden Figures.” She won Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture and was part of a team victory winning for Outstanding Motion Picture.
Denzel Washington was honored for being Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, for his lead role in “Fences,” which he also directed.
“August Wilson is one of the all-time greats,” said Washington backstage after winning the Image award. “He speaks for the ordinary people. He writes for the ordinary people…he as other great play writes are not just for this time, but for all-time.”
Entertainer of the Year, went to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. “Thank God thank you for this blessing,” said Johnson during his acceptance speech. “This award is dedicated to my father and my grandfather…Everything can be done with two things, faith and two hands.”
Chairman of NAACP Rosalyn Brock spoke and presented the Chairman’s Award to Charles J. Ogletree, Professor at Harvard Law School who is now most famous for being a mentor to Barack and Michelle Obama. Brock spoke on how Ogletree helped “create much needed change in the world.” He lives a life of “justice and service, and never forgot what it is like to be a person of color.”
President and CEO of the NAACP, Cornell Brooks presented the Presidents award to Lonnie G. Bunch, III. who is the founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and was the first curator at the California African American Museum here in Los Angeles. Brooks described Bunch as the, “Preeminent architect of the American experience.”
The NAACP Image Awards is the premiere multicultural awards show. It celebrates the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film, and also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.
To see the full list of winners and to view red carpet interviews visit www.lasentinel.net