The 51st Annual NAACP Image Awards Dinner Highlights Light, Liberation, and Nobility in the Height of the 2020 Election

Marsai Martin backstage in the press room after winning her first award of the evening. (Photo credit: Naomi K. Bonman)

On Friday, February 21, the 51st Annual NAACP Image Awards Dinner ceremony was held at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California. The evening was filled with positive vibes and success all throughout the room. From film to literary works to music, it was truly a night of #BlackExcellence and was a night of tribute for our community!

With the height of this year’s election, the NAACP Awards just seems that much more of importance when it comes to our community coming together to support one another. And each honoree and guest came out to do just that. Whether they won a 2020 NAACP Image award or not, they all seen each as winners and acknowledged one another’s hard work within the industry.

The dinner portion of the show opened up with an ACT-SO performance by Lancie Faith Kean and Sage Evan Rainey. Before the award winners were announced, their was one last ACT-SO performance by Consuela Watts.

In addition to dressing up in their best fits, Black Hollywood was excited and thrilled to see their friends and extended family that they haven’t seen in months to years, so this awards is like a “family reunion”; it’s a joyous occasion that they all look forward to every year.

The Image Awards are known for recognizing and honoring African Americans in the fields of film & TV, literary works, and entertainment; however, as we know the NAACP, which stands for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has a longevity in social justice and activism.

“For the first time in history, the NAACP will recognize two activists for their work, commitment, and courageous efforts in bringing about political power and/or social change within our communities,” Blair Underwood states. “The recipients of these awards champion the call to serve as the principal organizers of campaigns or events that bring about social and/or racial justice.”

The Activist of the Year award went to Teresa Haley. Teresa is committed to uplifting her community. She is a First Citizen Award finalist and has always fought to do what’s right for others. She has made a difference for the Illinois State Conference and her Springfield branch of the NAACP. As President, she started and continues to host Annual Labor Day, addressing Education, Civil Rights, Economic Development, Criminal Justice, Health Disparities, Redistricting, Restoring the Civil Rights, and Social Justice.

President Haley also hosted quarterly meetings with Illinois Association of Chief of Police to discuss issues of police misconduct to develop “10 Principles” for Police-Community Relations, that has been adopted by NOBLE and the NAACP National Board of Directors. She is considered the real deal for civil rights. She gives people the tools to affect change in their communities which aligns with her motto, “Keep It Movin”. She definitely has done just that!Under her tenure, Springfield has seen a dramatic increase of minority Police Officers and Firefighters.

The Youth Activist of the Year is Australyah Coleman. 2019 was a powerful year for the then Senior at Central Michigan University. Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, the former President of Central Michigan NAACP chapter, received the Organizer of the Year award for Region 3 of the NAACP Youth & College Division. Her dedication to the Association and desire to fight for social justice left an impact on her campus and peers.

When hate mail appeared on her campus in 2018, Australyah jumped into action, working together with other multicultural organizations to demand that each CMU student be required to take a cultural course pertaining to their major or minor; cameras be used in hallways of residence halls, that a certified third party host a race and ethnicity training that would be mandatory for all faculty, staff, students and police and a public apology from the officer that responded to the incident. She jumped into action and led student protests until the students were able to get a resolution worked out with the university. Coleman has also helped push for a hate crime policy to be added to legislature in Michigan that requires all public universities to have a policy against hate crimes and speech.

The 51st NAACP Image Awards aired on TVOne and BET on Saturday, February 22. For those who do not have cable, access to On-Demand, or just wasn’t able to see it for whatever reason, below are the winners of each category, as well as a few interviews from the Winner’s room on Friday night.

2020 NAACP Image Award Winners

  • OUTSTANDING TALK SERIES: Red Table talk
  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES: Marsai Martin
  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES: Deon Cole
  • OUTSTANDING JAZZ ALBUM: Love & Liberation
  • OUTSTANDING INDEPENDENT MOTION PICTURE: Dolemite is My Name
  • OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE, LIMITED SERIES OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL: When They See Us
  • OUTSTANDING VARIETY SHOW (SERIES OR SPECIAL): Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé
  • OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES: Greenleaf
  • OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES: Omari Hardwick
  • OUTSTANDING WRITING IN A DRAMA SERIES: Nichelle Tramble Spellman
  • OUTSTANDING DIRECTING IN A DRAMA SERIES: Cutis “50 Cent” Jackson
  • OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK-DEBUT AUTHOR: I Am Dance: Words and Images of the Black Dancer
  • OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK-BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY: More than Enough: Claiming Your Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)
  • OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE CAST IN MOTION PICTURE: Just Mercy
  • OUTSTANDING HOST IN A TALK OR NEWS/INFORMATION (SERIES OR SPECIAL)- INDIVIDUAL OR ENSEMBLE: Jada Pinkett-Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, Willow Smith
  • OUTSTANDING NEWS/INFORMATION: Unsung
  • OUTSTANDING GOSPEL/CHRISTIAN SONG (TRADITIONAL OR CONTEMPORARY): Love Theory
  • OUTSTANDING REALITY PROGRAM, REALITY COMPETITION OR GAME SHOW: Rhythm & Flow
  • OUTSTANDING SOUNDTRACK/COMPILATION: The Lion King: The Gift
  • OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY (TELEVISION-SERIES OR SPECIAL): Hitsville: The Making of Motown (Showtime)
  • OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES:’black-ish
  • OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN COMEDY SERIES: Anthony Anderson
  • OUTSTANDING GUEST PERFORMANCE IN A COMEDY OR DRAMA: Kelly Rowland
  • OUTSTANDING BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE IN A MOTION PICTURE: Marsai Martin
  • OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY (FILM): Toni Morrison: The Pieces of I Am
  • OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK-POETRY: Felon: Poems
  • OUTSTANDING DIRECTING IN A MOTION PICTURE (TELEVISION): Rashid Johnson
  • OUTSTANDING DIRECTING (MOTION PICTURE): Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA: Harold Perrineau
  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A SRAMA SERIES: Lynn Whitfield
  • OUTSTANDING CHILDREN’S PROGRAM: Family Reunion
  • OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A YOUTH (SERIES, SPECIAL, TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES): Marsai Martin
  • OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK-YOUTH AND TEENS: Around Harvard Square
  • OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK-CHILDREN: Sulwe
  • OUTSTANDING MALE ARTIST: Bruno Mars
  • OUTSTANDING SONG-TRADITIONAL: Spirit
  • OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK-NON-FICTION: The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations
  • OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK-INSTRUCTIONAL: Your Next Level of Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence, and Opportunity for Black Women in America
  • OUTSTANDING ACTOR TV MOVIE LIMITED SERIES OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL: Jharrel Jerome
  • OUTSTANDING ACTRESS TV MOVIE LIMITED SERIES OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL: Niecy Nash
  • OUTSTANDING WRITING IN A COMEDY SERIES: Cord Jefferson
  • OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE: Michael B. Jordan
  • OUTSTANDING WRITING IN A MOTION PICTURE: Jordan Peele
  • OUTSTANDING WRITING IN A MOTION PICTURE (TELEVISION): Yvette Nicole Brown
  • OUTSTANDING NEW ARTIST: Lil Nas X
  • OUTSTANDING DIRECTING IN A COMEDY SERIES: Anya Adams
  • OUTSTANDING CHARACTER VOICE-OVER PERFORMANCE (TELEVISION OR MOTION PICTURE): James Earl Jones
  • OUTSTANDING LITERARY-FICTION: The Revisioners
  • OUTSTANDING MUSIC VIDEO/VISUAL ALBUM: Juice
  • OUTSTANDING ALBUM: Homecoming: The Album
  • OUTSTANDING SONG-CONTEMPORARY: Before I Let Go
  • OUTSTANDING FEMALE ARTIST: Beyonce
  • OUTSTANDING DUO/GROUP/COLLABORATION: Brown Skin Girl
  • OUTSTANDING HOST-REALITY/REALITY COMPETITION, GAME SHOW, OR VARIETY (SERIES OR SPECIAL)-INDIVIDUAL OR ENSEMBLE: Steve Harvey
  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN MOTION PICTURE: Jamie Foxx

Quotes and Interviews from the red carpet

Photo Credit: Naomi K. Bonman

Jacob Latimore

Naomi K. Bonman: What are you most looking forward to tonight?

Jacob Latimore: “Eating some good food, being around my people’s, and great friends. I have a lot of great friends out here, and just Black excellence. Nothing in particular.”

Major: “I would love to win! I am nominated for outstanding male artist this year, as well as outstanding male performance in a TV Series for my role on Star. So I’, super excited. I’m grateful and just here to see what God has in store.”

Bianca Lawson: “Just seeing old friends and people who I haven’t seen in awhile, and seeing some of the great people that I admire.”

Anya Adams: Seeing and watching everyone celebrate their success and being with my peers; it’s so wonderful!

Vanessa Rubin: Enjoying the moment.

Najee: For one thing, connecting with old friends from the industry. This is my third nomination. I won one in 2006, so I can see a lot of my friends like Bebe Winans.

Yvette Nicole Brown: I’m looking forward to winning an Image award because I’m nominated for writing. That’s what I’m most looking forward to. I’m excited to see everybody! This is like a family reunion. I get to see everybody in their pretty dresses.

Merle Dandridge: I’m excited to see my Greenleaf family, I haven’t seen them in a minute. It’s going to be fun to celebrate all of our hard work tonight.

Mykal Kilgore: I’m most looking forward to hearing my name called, so that’s what I’m at the edge of my seat waiting for.

Karen Boykin-Towns: I am Karen Boykin-Towns and I am the Chairman of the Image Awards committee. Thank you so much for being here. This is an exciting night. We’ll be giving out over 50 awards tonight. This dinner continues to grow with more celebrities coming through and it is a really god opportunity to celebrate our own and to really recognize the talent exists within our community. Tomorrow we will have our live show on our new network, BET. I’m really excited! We’ll be broadcasted on nine different platforms because of this partnership. So there will be a lot of eyeballs which will be great! While we hit that demographic there will be opportunities for others to see an amazing show!

Caleel Harris: I don’t know, being on stage maybe. (lol)

Naomi K. Bonman: So what’s next for you?

Jacob Latimore: “I’m producing a lot of music right now. I have an album dropping soon, no date yet, but The Chi comes releases again on July 5.”

Major: “Yo, the new music…just get ready! Get ready! You’re gonna laugh; it’s going to be real good!”

Mykal Kilgore: I am now on this ride where I feel like I’m going up the hill of a roller coaster. I can’t even see the top and everything is just getting better and better.

Caleel Harris: Right now I’m doing a TV show called Swagger.

Naomi K. Bonman: How do you mentally prepare for your deep roles on Queen Sugar?

Bianca Lawson: “It’s different every day, some days I can just jump into it and some days I have to work a little bit harder. But she’s always spoken to me’ there’s something about her (role) that has always been very personal.”

Naomi K. Bonman: You’re the only female nominated in your category for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. What was your reaction when you found out about the nomination?

Anya Adams: This is my first nomination. I’m really honored and I’m up against my mentor, Ken Whittingham, so that’s an honor.

Naomi K. Bonman: Can you describe your series, Glow?

Anya Adams: Glow is a television show about the gorgeous ladies of wrestling. It is very interesting. The thing that I love about it is that it is about a [diverse] group of women who are all friends and work together and doing something very unique which is wrestling.

Naomi K. Bonman: What inspired you to get into jazz?

Vanessa Rubin: Whew, girl I’m the seventh of eight children in a household where my parents were music enthusiasts. My father and my brothers all loved jazz and music has always been apart of my life. I don’t remember a day when I was coming up when it wasn’t. I gotta say when I graduated from college, I was a journalism major in college, and when you’re young you are looking for your purpose, your passion, and I got into performing jazz live and I had one of those ‘aha’ moments and I realized this is really what my calling was. That what really inspired me and of course falling in love with so many of the jazz greats that were played around my household. It was already in me, so I like to think it was a seed that has been planted and it just had to blossom at the right time.

Naomi K. Bonman: What can we except from your latest album, Center of the Heart?

Najee: We have a collaboration with Kenny Lattimore which is doing very well and a few other guests from the smooth jazz industry.

Naomi K. Bonman: What advice do you have for aspiring Jazz musicians?

Najee: You know what, I know it sounds pretty awkward to say this, but get up and make your bed in the morning. When you make it, you’re never going back to it. Start your day and get going on it, whatever you have your dream or your heart on, go work on it right away.

Naomi K. Bonman: What’s your genre of music and what makes your music stand out from the rest? What makes you different?

Mykal Kilgore: I like to do what I call Black-ass music and grown-ass music! And only Mykal Kilgore could’ve made this album. I am really proud to be able to say that. I made work about me and I am so grateful that it is being received well.

(left to right): Denise Pines, Executive Producer; Samaya, one of the girls highlighted; and Monique W. Morris, Executive Producer and Writer. (Photo Credit: Naomi K. Bonman) The team of the documentary,
PUSHOUT: THE CRIMINALIZATION OF BLACK GIRLS IN SCHOOLS.

Listen to their interview below:

Press Room Interviews with the Winners


Website | + posts

Naomi K. Bonman is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University where she holds her Bachelors of Arts in Mass Media Arts with a concentration in Journalism. She also holds her Masters of Public Administration. She is the Founder and CEO of Awakened Media Enterprises, Inc. which owns Purposely Awakened. She has been in the media field since 2006 covering beats that range from social justice, community, entertainment, sports, fashion/beauty, and culture news.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright Ⓒ 2018 Awakened Media Enterprises, Inc.