By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr., AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jennifer Hudson was named artist of the year at the 53rd annual NAACP Image Awards which highlighted the works of artists and writers of color.
After Hudson accepted the award Saturday night, the singer-actor thanked the NAACP for inspiring “little girls like me.” She beat Regina King, Lil Nas X, Megan Thee Stallion and Tiffany Haddish.
“I was just standing here thinking, ‘This was here – the NAACP Awards – where I watched so many legends and icons that inspired me,'” the Oscar and Grammy winner said. “Now I’m standing here with an award like this. It’s because of seeing the Arethas, the Patti LaBelles, the Halle Berrys, all these legends right here in this booth that inspired me.”
Hudson played her idol Aretha Franklin in the movie “Respect.” She was called in to meet Franklin in 2007 to play the Queen of Soul shortly after Hudson won an Oscar for “Dreamgirls.”
“Respect” follows Franklin from childhood through the 1972 recording of the gospel album “Amazing Grace.”
“It’s for Mrs. Franklin’s legacy,” Hudson said after winning Best Actress.
The awards show was broadcast live on BET in Los Angeles with some talent appearing in person while others watched virtually. There was no in-person hearing.
Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, received the President’s Award. He expressed his gratitude to the NAACP for welcoming him into their community before speaking about those in Ukraine affected by the ongoing Russian invasion.
“We would like to thank the people of Ukraine who urgently need our continued support as a global community,” Prince Harry said as he stood next to his wife. The couple have been recognized for their outreach efforts in the United States and around the world.
“It’s safe to say that I come from a very different background than my amazing wife,” he said. “Yet our lives were brought together for a reason. We share a commitment to a life of service, a responsibility to face injustice, and a belief for the most neglected that it is most important to listen.
Both spoke of inspiring the next generation of activists through the NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award. This is a newly created award that recognizes leaders who create change in social justice and technology to advance civil and human rights.
On Friday, the inaugural prize was awarded to Dr Safiya Noble, who Meghan called a “visionary”.
Samuel L. Jackson received the NAACP Chairman’s Award for his public service. The ceremony highlighted his acting achievements and activism, including a time when he was expelled from Morehouse College in 1969 for locking board members in a building for two days to protest the program and the school governance.
The video mentioned Jackson’s efforts to raise awareness about male cancer control and autism. He also spotlighted him and his wife, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, who established a performing arts center at Spelman College.
Jackson quoted activist Marian Wright Edelman after accepting her award.
“I was blessed growing up in different times where I had the opportunity to use my voice, my legs and my body to fight for things that were right,” the 73-year-old actor said. . He has appeared in over 100 films including Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” and Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever”.
Jackson has also starred in several other movies such as ‘Do the Right Thing’, ‘Unbreakable’, ‘Snakes on a Plane’ and several Marvel movies including ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’.
“We did it,” he continued. “At the moment we still have things to do. The most important thing being the Voting Rights Act. I know we can’t change that. But we can put our legs, our bodies and our voices to the work to make sure people get out and vote – no matter what they do to stop us from doing so.
The awards ceremony included a performance by nine-time Grammy winner Mary J. Blige, who co-starred in this month’s Super Bowl halftime show. She performed her singles “Good Morning Gorgeous” and “Love No Limit” at the Apollo Theater in New York.
Anthony Anderson, who returned as the show’s host, won Best Actor in a Comedy Series. In the presence of her mother, the “blackish” star shouted “I told you I was going to win, mum” before running onto the stage and punching her in the chest.
“I would like to thank my mom for sleeping with my dad and making me,” he joked before getting serious. “I’m just a kid from Compton, California. If you dream and believe, anything is possible.
Will Smith, Best Actor for his role in ‘King Richard’ and ‘The Harder They Fall,’ won Best Picture. Issa Rae won Best Comedy Series and Nikole Hannah-Jones received the Social Justice Impact Award.
Sterling K. Brown squealed with delight when he won the Outstanding Actor Award for a Drama Series. After Tiffany Haddish virtually presented him with the award, the “This Is Us” actor thanked the show’s network, NBC, before joking about hanging out with Anderson’s mom.
“There are way too many white people on my show for me to actually win this thing,” he said. “But I have to say ‘Thank you, black people for voting for me. I really appreciate that.'”
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