PASADENA — The top African American entertainers were on hand Jan. 15 for the 49th annual NAACP Image Awards.
The big splashdowns came on the red carpet with Halle Berry, Kerry Washington, Jordan Peele, Daniel Kaluuya, Tracee Ellis Ross and Jurnee Smollett-Bell, among others, made their way through a crowd of photographers and reporters to get to their seats to take in the two-hour award show.
In getting to the show, there were, as there usually are, some surprises.
Let’s start with Kaluuya, the British star who occupied the lead role in Peele’s blockbuster sci-fi horror film “Get Out” that has garnered more than its share of accolades from critics and supporters alike.
Better yet, let’s begin with Peele, the writer and director of “Get Out.” Following in the footsteps of the 2015 megahit “Straight Outta Compton” by operating on a shoestring budget for a film that turned into a worldwide sensation, “Get Out” became an even more remarkable force at the box office.
“Get Out” had a production budget of $4.5 million. The film grossed over $254 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. That has translated into award season recognition for Peele and Kaluuya.
Both men were honored with NAACP Image Awards. Peele took home NAACP Image Awards in the Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture categories as a result of the fanfare that “Get Out” has received.
As for Kaluuya, he had a bit of a mountain to climb to receive his honor. Not only did he have to top Chadwick Boseman (Marshall), the groomed “Black Panther” star, Kaluuya also had to wade through the waters to beat Denzel Washington (“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”) in the Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture category.
Kaluuya and Peele weren’t the only big winners on the night as the nation celebrated the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
In that spirit, the NAACP Image Awards drew upon its activism side with a #TimesUp presentation by Washington, Smollett-Bell, Laverne Cox and Ross as the headliners. Activism, which the NAACP is known for, seemed to be a running theme throughout the evening as longtime social activist and actor Danny Glover was the recipient of the NAACP President’s Award presented by NAACP President Derrick Johnson.
The show also paid homage to the Memphis sanitation (I Am A Man) workers, whose cause King championed before he was assassinated. When it comes to social justice and criminal justice reform, A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project founder Susan Burton knows a thing or two about that subject. Burton pulled herself out of a wasteful living condition and has become a leading advocate to help women find life after incarceration.
Now an author, Burton’s “Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women,” took home an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Literary Work-Biography/Autobiography category.
Other big winners included “Black-ish,” which saw Ross (Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series), Anthony Anderson (Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series) and Marsai Martin (Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series) receive Awards. “Black-ish” also claimed the top honor for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Among those in attendance at the 49th Annual NAACP Image Awards include “This is Us” star Sterling K. Brown, Issae Rae, Terry Crews, Angela Rye, Michael B. Jordan, ESPN’s “The Six” co-hosts Michael Smith and Jemele Hill and director Ava DuVernay, who went home with the NAACP Image Award for Entertainer of the Year.
Other television winners included: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, Jay Ellis, “Insecure” (HBO); Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, Marsai Martin, “Black-ish” (ABC); Outstanding Drama Series, “Power” (Starz); Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series, Omari Hardwick, “Power” (Starz); Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series, Taraji P. Henson, “Empire” (Fox); Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Joe Morton, “Scandal” (ABC); and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Naturi Naughton, “Power” (Starz).
Also winning in television categories were: Outstanding Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special, “The New Edition Story” (BET); Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special, Idris Elba, “Guerrilla” (Showtime); Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special; Queen Latifah, “Flint” (Lifetime); Outstanding News/ Information – (Series or Special), “Unsung” (TV One); Outstanding Talk Series, “The Real” (Syndicated); Outstanding Reality Program/Reality Competition Series, “The Manns” (TV One) and Outstanding Variety or Game Show (Series or Special), “Lip Sync Battle” (Spike).
More television winners were: Outstanding Children’s Program, “Doc McStuffins” (Disney Junior); Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited Series); Caleb McLaughlin, “Stranger Things” (Netflix); Outstanding Host in a Talk or News/Information (Series or Special) Individual or Ensemble, Roland Martin, “News One Now” (TV One); and Outstanding Host in a Reality/Reality Competition, Game Show or Variety (Series or Special), Individual or Ensemble, LL Cool J, “Lip Sync Battle” (Spike).
Winners in recording categories included: Outstanding New Artist, SZA, “Ctrl” (RCA Records/Top Dawg Entertainment); Outstanding Male Artist, Bruno Mars, “Versace On the Floor” (Atlantic Records); Outstanding Female Artist, Mary J. Blige, “Strength of a Woman” (Capitol Records); Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration, Kendrick Lamar featuring Rihanna, “Loyalty” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope); Outstanding Jazz Album, “Petite Afrique,” Somi (Sony Music/OKeh); and Outstanding Gospel/Christian Album (Traditional or Contemporary), “Greenleaf Soundtrack Volume 2,” Greenleaf Soundtrack (RCA Inspiration).
More recording awards included: Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album, “That’s What I Like,” Bruno Mars (Atlantic Records); Outstanding Song, Traditional, “That’s What I Like,” – Bruno Mars (Atlantic Records); Outstanding Song, Contemporary, “Humble,” Kendrick Lamar (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope); Outstanding Album, “Damn,” Kendrick Lamar (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope);
Winners in literature included: Outstanding Literary Work, Fiction, “The Annotated African American Folktales,” Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Author), Maria Tatar (Author), (Liveright Publishing Corporation); Outstanding Literary Work, Non-Fiction, “Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies,” Dick Gregory (HarperCollins Publishers); Outstanding Literary Work, Debut Author, “No One Is Coming to Save Us,” Stephanie Powell Watts (HarperCollins Publishers); Outstanding Literary Work, Biography /Auto Biography, “Becoming Ms. Burton – From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women,” Susan Burton (Author), Cari Lynn (Author), Michelle Alexander (Foreword By) (The New Press); Outstanding Literary Work, Instructional, “The Awakened Woman: Remembering & Reigniting Our Sacred Dreams,” Dr. Tererai Trent (Author), Oprah Winfrey (Foreword By) (Simon and Schuster); Outstanding Literary Work, Poetry, “Incendiary Art: Poems,” Patricia Smith (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press); Outstanding Literary Work, Children, “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History,” Vashti Harrison (Hachette Book Group); Outstanding Literary Work ,Youth / Teens, “Clayton Byrd Goes Underground,” Rita Williams-Garcia (Author), Frank Morrison (Illustrator) Amistad/HarperCollins Publishers.
Motion pictures awards included: Outstanding Motion Picture, “Girls Trip” (Universal Pictures); Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out,” (Universal Pictures); Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, Octavia Spencer, “Gifted” (Fox Searchlight Pictures); Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, Idris Elba, “THOR: Ragnarok” (Marvel Studios); Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, Tiffany Haddish, “Girls Trip” (Universal Pictures); and Outstanding Independent Motion Picture, “Detroit,” (Annapurna Pictures).
Awards for documentaries included: Outstanding Documentary (Film), “Step” (Fox Searchlight Pictures); Outstanding Documentary (Television), “The 44th President: In His Own Words,” (History).
Awards for writing included: Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, Janine Barrois, “Claws,” “Batsh*t,” (TNT); Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series, Gina Prince-Bythewood, “Shots Fired,” Hour One: Pilot (Fox); Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie or Special, Abdul Williams, “The New Edition Story,” Night Two (BET); and Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture, Jordan Peele, “Get Out” (Universal Pictures).
Awards for directing included: Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series, Anton Cropper, “Black-ish,” Juneteenth (ABC); Outstanding Directing in a Dramatic Series, Carl Franklin, “13 Reasons Why” – Tape 5, Side B (Netflix); Outstanding Directing in a Television Movie or Special, Allen Hughes, “The Defiant Ones” (HBO); and Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture, Jordan Peele, “Get Out” (Universal Pictures).