One week before the Academy Awards, one of the frontrunners
for best picture "12 Years a Slave" won the best motion picture
award for the real-life story of an American slave, while
newcomer Lupita Nyong'o won best supporting actress for her
first film role in the brutal drama.
The Image Awards organized by the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People are considered the top
entertainment honors from an African American point of view and
brought together a star-studded crowd that included talk show
host and media magnate Oprah Winfrey, British actor Idris Elba
and actress Kerry Washington.
Many award winners and presenters made note of the strong year
for film based on African American themes and acclaimed
performances from black actors, from both the United States and
the United Kingdom.
The NAACP paid tribute to the late South African president and
anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela with a presentation from
Winfrey, who opened a girls school in South Africa to honor the
statesman, and a musical performance by Stevie Wonder.
The 34-year-old Hart won the most coveted award of the night in
a year that has seen the Philadelphia native's career take off.
He is currently starring in the films "Ride Along" and "About
Last Night." He also stars as himself in "Real Husbands of
Hollywood," for which he won best actor in a comedy series,
while the show won the award for best TV comedy.
"I am on my toes right now," joked Hart, who stands just 5 foot,
4 inches, as he collected the top award.
"Right now I am working hard towards my own dream and the fact
that that dream is becoming reality is unreal," he said.
"HISTORICAL YEAR FOR FILM"
Whitaker, 52, was honored with the NAACP chairman's award for
his acting career and work as an advocate for peace in some of
the most violent places in the world, such as South Sudan and
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"All I have tried to do in my life and my work is deepen my
connection with humanity," said Whitaker, who won an Academy Award
for best actor in 2007 for his role as the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin
in "The Last King of Scotland."
Whitaker also won the award for best actor in a motion picture for
his role as a butler who serves in the White House over decades and
is witness to the historic gains in civil rights in "Lee Daniels'
Whitaker is also a film producer and his independent drama
"Fruitvale Station" won the NAACP award for best independent film.
In other top film acting categories, Angela Bassett won best actress
for her role in "Black Nativity," while David Oyelowo won best
supporting actor as the civil rights worker and son of the butler in
"Lee Daniels' The Butler."
The Kenyan actress Nyong'o, who is a favorite to win the best
supporting actress Oscar on Hollywood's biggest night on March 2,
said "12 Years a Slave" has inspired a discourse on slavery "long
"It's been an historical year for film for all of us in this room
and I feel so proud to be a part of that history," she said.
The pregnant Washington, who was the big winner at last year's
awards, took home the award for best actress in a television drama
series for her role as Washington fixer Olivia Pope in ABC's
"Scandal," which also won best television drama series.
"There's been a lot of talk about the historic nature of this
character on network television," said Washington. "I just want to
say...that is not because of the lack of talent. It's because of the
lack of opportunity."
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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