The 47th annual NAACP Image Awards went right to where the Academy Awards chose not to go, honoring two of this year’s most notorious Oscar snubs with top honors tonight. Creed was the clear winner, taking home wins for best actor (Michael B. Jordan), Best Director (Ryan Coogler), Best Supporting Actress (Phylicia Rashad), and Best Writing. That’s one for every category in which it was nominated. Sweeting the Creed success, Jordan earned the coveted Entertainer Of The Year title. “When the pubic starts to take notice it’s satisfying… I’m actually at a loss for words,” a visibly elated Jordan said about his win.
The event kicked off tonight in Pasadena, California at the Civic Auditorium as NAACP honored outstanding people of color in art and entertainment from film and television as well as books and music. For the third year in a row, Blackish star Anthony Anderson hosted, with winners were announced tonight as well as last night in a separate ceremony.
Tonight’s ceremony was notable taking place as it does with the conversation about diversity – or the lack of it – in Hollywood reaching a fever pitch. Unsurprisingly that conversation was very much on the minds of the stars in attendance. Anderson was all comedy in his monologue, but he did nod frequently to the debate, for instance by wearing a hat referencing Compton that read “nominees with attitude”. He also joked that people shouldn’t be so zealous in battling the #oscarssowhite situation that they end up nominating “Madea Goes Trick or Treating in Compton” for Best Picture. Big laughs for that joke by the way.
He rapped about the snubs, saying “Listen, y’all, I don’t mean to sound cocky, but the movie’s called ‘Creed,’ not ‘Rocky,” a nod to Stallone’s nomination at the Oscars. But later, he got a little serious. “Hollywood needs to know that this is what diversity is supposed to look like,” Anderson said.
The award show also honored musician John Legend with the President’s award. After a moving performance of his smash hit “All Of Me,” Legend gave a compelling speech about social justice saying “fighting for justice isn’t an act of hate but an act of love. So let’s spread the love.”
NAACP President Cornell William Brooks himself noted backstage that the Image awards “Are more important then ever before… its not about who ignores us.. but how we recognize ourselves”
Meanwhile, Best Picture went to fellow-snubee Straight Outta Compton, whose team declined to address the aforementioned issue backstage. O’Shae Jackson Jr. also snagged the supporting actor award for the portrayal of his dad Ice Cube in the film. When asked to sum up his Image awards experience with one of his dad’s famous song, Jackson replied ‘Today Was A Good Day” which was an obvious set up.
On the TV side, Black-ish cleaned up taking home six out of the seven categories nominated including Outstanding TV Comedy and lead acting awards for Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross. The Empire cast was also in attendance and picked up awards for Best TV Drama. Creator Lee Daniels addressed the diversity issue backstage saying “We need the opportunity… the Oscars are secondary. I’ve always made my opportunity… I don’t wait for people to give it to me.”