The 48th NAACP Image Awards — which are presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to honor people of color in entertainment — were held this past Saturday night, Feb. 11, 2017, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California.
Denzel Washington won an award for best movie actor for his role in “Fences,” the adaptation of August Wilson’s play, which Washington also directed.
“It is a privilege, an honor, a responsibility, a duty and a joy to bring his brilliance to the screen,” Washington said of the late Wilson, whom he called among America’s greatest playwrights. Last month, the New York Film Academy welcomed one of Washington’s co-stars, Russell Hornsby, who also praised the late playwright for being so influential on his career. “Wilson forced actors to bring their authentic self,” Hornsby said to a room full of NYFA students. “You bring your pain [to the role].”
One of the big winners of the evening was “black-ish,” the TV sitcom came close to sweeping its categories, taking the award for best TV comedy and stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross getting top acting trophies. In non-televised awards given Friday, the show earned honors for co-stars Laurence Fishburne and Marsai Martin and a writing trophy for creator Kenya Barris. “The People Vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” also cleaned up the television comedy and drama categories with three wins, though newcomer Queen Sugar was recognized as the best drama series. Interesting note: NYFA Instructor Ken Lerner played attorney Howard Weitzman in “The People Vs O.J. Simpson” —the lawyer who is ultimately replaced by attorney Robert Kardashian, played by David Schwimmer.
However, the directing award went to Donald Glover for his hit comedy series “Atlanta,” which also won a Golden Globe earlier this year. “Hidden Figures” and Taraji P. Henson were also winners, as the fact-based drama about the contributions of black female mathematicians to the U.S. space program won the award for best movie, while star Henson was honored as best actress.
Beyoncé dominated the music categories with five wins, including Outstanding Female Artist and Outstanding Album for Lemonade.
Back in the film world, “Moonlight” ran away with four awards including Outstanding Independent Motion Picture and two writing and directing wins for Barry Jenkins.
“Queen Sugar,” created by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, was named best drama series, and “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown claimed the award for best TV drama series actor.
Lonnie G. Bunche III received the NAACP President’s Award for his work as founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Last but not least, the popular wrestler turned actor, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, was named entertainer of the year in online voting. Last year, one of our Acting for Film graduates appeared in a video with Johnson, promoting his new Youtube channel.