NAACP Image Awards Honors Excellence in a New Way
This year the show is virtual and happens over six consecutive nights. Dozens of awards are being handed out in the entertainment fields of TV, film, music, literary arts, and podcasts for outstanding achievements by entertainers of color.
Last month, NAACP’s Hollywood Bureau Senior Vice President Kyle Bowser talked about this year’s event and said his organization has always been more inclusive when honoring top talent in Hollywood. “We’re just acknowledging excellence in the arts, no matter where it comes from,” said Bowser. “It just so happens we have an appreciation for the artistic contributions that are not being recognized elsewhere…And we don’t look at it really as being an answer to diversity; we just look at it as a genuine appreciation for art forms.”
And the NAACP Image Awards has expanded that appreciation. For the first time, it’s honoring distinguished podcast hosts during the first night of its virtual ceremony. Award-winning journalist of The Atlantic and former ESPN host Jemele Hill took home two trophies for her highly acclaimed podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered. She won for Outstanding Podcast in Arts and Entertainment and for Outstanding Podcast in Society and Culture. And she had some tough competition. She went up against Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Podcast and Questlove, the Grammy-winning musician and leader of the in-house band for With Jimmy Fallon. He hosts Questlove Supreme. Hill thanked her creative team and her husband for their support.
Actress and talk show host Sherri Shepherd picked up her fifth NAACP Image Award on Monday night. Shepherd and actress Kym Whitley won for their podcast Two Funny Mamas: Sherri Shepherd & Kym Whitley. They took home the trophy for Outstanding Podcast in the Lifestyle & Self Help category. Shepherd already has four NAACP Image Awards honoring her work as a former co-host on The View and as an actress on her former show, eponymously named Sherri. The actress-turned-podcast-host will soon host her own talk show in the fall and replace the timeslot for the soon-to-be-canceled The Wendy Williams Show. Shepherd and Whitley beat out former Destiny’s Child singer and Grammy winner Michelle Williams’ podcast Checking In with Michelle Williams. Shepherd thanked the NAACP and God for giving her and Whitley the award.
Golden Globe winner Will Smith and the late, legendary actress Cicely Tyson both won literary awards. Smith received Outstanding Literary Work for a Biography/Autobiography for his memoir Will and Tyson in the Outstanding Literary Work for a Debut Author category for her autobiography Just as I Am.
Although it’s streaming each weeknight, there is a live show set to air on BET on Saturday, February 26 with actor Anthony Anderson hosting, Grammy winner Mary J. Blige performing, and Golden Globe nominee Samuel L. Jackson receiving the NAACP Chairman’s Award.
Below is a complete list of the awards handed out on Monday night. You can watch the first night of the ceremony right here on their YouTube channel.
OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK – FICTION – “Long Division” Kiese Laymon
OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK – NON-FICTION – “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” – Nikole Hannah-Jones
OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK – DEBUT AUTHOR – “Just As I Am” – Cicely Tyson
OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK – BIOGRAPHY/ AUTOBIOGRAPHY – “Will”- Will Smith
OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK – INSTRUCTIONAL – “Feeding the Soul (Because It’s My Business)” – Tabitha Brown
OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK – POETRY – “Perfect Black”- Crystal Wilkinson
OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK – CHILDREN – “Stacey’s Extraordinary Words” – Stacey Abrams, Kitt Thomas
OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK – YOUTH/TEENS – “Ace of Spades”- Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
OUTSTANDING PODCAST – NEWS & INFORMATION – “Blindspot: Tulsa Burning”
OUTSTANDING PODCAST – ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT – “Jemele Hill is Unbothered”
OUTSTANDING PODCAST – SOCIETY & CULTURE – “Jemele Hill is Unbothered”
OUTSTANDING PODCAST – LIFESTYLE & SELF-HELP – “Two Funny Mamas” – Sherri Shepherd & Kym Whitley
SPECIAL AWARD: YOUTH ACTIVIST OF THE YEAR – Channing Hill