As this year’s show began, and a wide camera angel swept over the audience, the NAACP Image Awards boast a multitude of the most elite in “Black Hollywood.” Host, Anthony Anderson waste no time taking funny, quick-witted jabs at some of the notable attendees, from Maxine Waters, John Legend, Trevor Noah and even Michael B. Jordan – who he joked may be an actor his wife appreciates for more than just his acting skills. It’s the Black-ish stars sixth year hosting the awards show, and albeit with no protest.
It’s the golden year for the award’s show, as the NAACP celebrated 50 years of recognizing, people of color, in several areas of entertainment, literature and their contributions to the community and culture at large. This year’s show was held at the impressive Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, on March 30th, 2019 right off Hollywood Boulevard. For many, it’s an awards show that provides redemption for great work that may have been snubbed or overlooked, by some of the more mainstream awards shows.
Several celebs strolled the red carpet, including HBO Insecure starlets, Issa Rae and Yvonne Oriji, both of which were nominated in the best comedy series categories for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series respectively. Black Panther and This Is Us actor, Sterling K. Brown, as well as some of his fellow motion picture cast Leitia Wright, Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, and Winston Duke strolled down the red carpet. While Hollywood darling, Marsai Martin (Black-ish, Little), looked all grown up on the carpet, donning a gorgeous black strap-less gown laced in beads and sparkle. She was no awkward middle-schooler, like her character Diane; for sure!
Celebrated with special honor this year were Tom Joyner (Vanguard Award), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (Chairman Award), Jay-Z (Presidents Award) and NE-YO (McDonald’s Black & Positively Gold Music Honor); who accepted his award with his three beautiful children in tow. Other big winners for the night were Beyoncé’ who won for Entertainer of the Year, the cast of Black Panther who won for Outstanding Motion Picture, the cast of Black-ish for Outstanding Comedy and the cast of Power who won for Outstanding Drama Series.
Both Anthony Anderson and Tracy Ellis Ross won for their acting roles on their hit sitcom, in the comedy category – which marks Anthony’s fifth win and Tracy’s eighth. Tracy tearfully accepted her award as she reminisced on her Mother, Diana Ross’, influence in her life; as the legendary singer turned 75 this year. She also shared how devastated she was the first time she received a nomination in this category and lost, but said if she knew then what she knows now, she would’ve told her younger self to be patient, as she would win several times over.
A very memorable acceptance speech, was none other, than “Auntie Maxine” herself- as the Congresswoman has affectionately been called by Millennials. As she received her award, she shared several of the initiatives she’s already pushed and successes she’s had recently in the Congress, as the newly elected “Chair of the House Financial Services Committee” (a first for a woman and African American). With every sentence, she ended with the chant, “I’ve got the gavel, and I’m not afraid to use it!
Backstage, Chadwick Boseman who won the award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for Black Panther, shared that he felt like a winner even before winning his category, as simply being a part of such an amazing movie and working with such a great cast, already has been an award within itself. Tom Joyner, who was presented the Vanguard Award by political pundit and FOX News Commentator- Donna Brazile, said he believed his unwavering efforts and support of HBCU’s across the country will be his greatest legacy. He shared that while he plans to retire from radio this year, fighting to keep HBCU’s alive will continue to be his life’s work.
During the press Q&A, members of the Power cast, celebrated their win and Nautri Naughton shared why she believed her portrayal of Tasha, on the hit STARS show, resonated with so many without playing into the stereo-type of “the angry Black woman.” “I thank God for the writers, as our team of writers makes it easy for me as an actress… and not judging Tasha, but people see the humanity in her.” Her co-star, Omari Hardwick shared some advice that Spike Lee gave him early on in his career, “Spike told me that as an actor, I was smart and complicated, so as I go into a character, I should try to keep it simple in portraying a role.”
There were so many great presenters this year as well, who helped keep the night fun and flowing. Late night talk show host, Trevor Noah, joked about knowing that he had a chance in late night, when comedian Sinbad won the award for Outstanding Comedian in 1994, as a light skinned brother with a high behind. Other wonderful presenters were the trio from the highly-anticipated movie Little, Regina Hall, Issa Rae and Marsai Martin. Actress Sanaa Lathan was a stunner on the stage, with fellow presenter Colman Domingo, as they gave the award for Outstanding TV Drama Series. The powerhouse trio of Kerry Washington, Van Jones and John Legend, also took the stage, among many other celebrity favorites.
Year after year, the NAACP Image Awards continue to grow in attendance, popularity and prestige. Now with its 50th successful celebration in the books, the legacy of these awards will remain its recognition of those who may not always receive their due; but are most deserving. The golden year, of this year’s awards show, was truly one that will be remembered.
** The awards show aired live on TV One, a division of Urban One, Inc., on March 30th, 2019. To catch a glimpse of the awards, check your local cable listing for re-airing dates/times. For a full list of nominees and this year’s winners, visit NAACPImageAwards.net. **
Written By: Shani Jones (follow her @ShaniSpeaksNow)