40th Annual NAACP Image Awards recognize Tariji, Rosario, Chandra, Halle and many others


Although the evening’s sole openly gay nominee, Wanda Skyes, didn’t win in her category (or even attend the event; Queen Latifah was also absent), the 40th NAACP Image Awards show offered an entertaining and inspiring evening last night.

Halle Berry and Tyler Perry co-hosted the annual awards show that pays tribute to people of color in entertainment, on the eve of the NAACP’s one-hundredth anniversary.

Halle Berry sporting different looks during the Awards

Beyoncé kicked it off with a great performance of her song “Halo,” set against images of the Civil Rights movement. I don’t think anyone was really surprised when she won Favorite Female Singer later in the evening.

Jennifer Hudson received a standing ovation when she won for Best New Artist, and proceeded to knock her musical performance out of the park.

The women who took home awards in the major TV categories include Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends) for Outstanding Actress in a TV Comedy, Angela Bassett (ER) for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy) for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and Keisha Knight Pulliam (House of Payne) for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (which kinda freaks me out because in my mind she’s still 12).

Chandra Wilson, left, and Keisha Knight Pulliam at the Awards

Whatever quibbles I might have with Grey’s occasionally, Chandra Wilson deserves every award she gets!

In the movies category, the big female winners were Rosario Dawson (Seven Pounds) for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, and Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but I’ll always remember her from The Division) for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.

Rosario Dawson accepting her award

Taraji P. Henson laughing backstage with the press after accepting her award

Sanaa Lathan and Blair Underwood presented hip hop mogul Russell Simmons with the NAACP’s Vanguard award (in a nice hat tip to Lathan’s role in Brown Sugar — or maybe I’m just projecting).

The Def Poetry Jam tribute by to Simmons was by far the most interesting performance I’ve seen on any awards show in a long time. (My favorite line: “If you are the peak and we are brushes you’ve made, we don’t live in your shadow, we grow in your shade.”)

It was a little disappointing, though, that four of five of the night’s special awards honoring lifetime achievements etc. went to men — Russell Simmons, Muhammad Ali, Al Gore and Barack Obama (OK, so Obama didn’t officially receive an award, but the night was so full of tributes to him, he might as well have) — with Dr. Wangai Maathai as the sole female recipient (of the Chairman’s award for her work in environmentalism). I’m not saying these men didn’t deserve the respect, just that it would have been nice to recognize the extra-special accomplishments of more people from the other gender, too.

A Raisin in the Sun finally took home some trophies — for Outstanding TV Mini-Series, with Outstanding TV Mini-series Actress/Actor Awards going to Phylicia Rashad and Sean Combs, respectively.

Other award winners include Slumdog Millionaire for Outstanding Independent Motion Picture, Grey’s Anatomy for Outstanding Drama Series, and The Secret Life of Bees for Outstanding Motion Picture.

The cast and crew of The Secret Life of Bees accepting their award

See the full list of winners here.

There are too many other interesting women in attendance to show, but here are a few more of my favorites at the show last night.

Regina Taylor, one of the best things about CBS’s The Unit (a guilty pleasure of mine).

Vanessa A. Williams, of Soul Food fame.

The ladies of Lincoln Heights: Erica Hubbard, Nicki Micheaux and Rhyon Nicole Brown

Let me know what you thought of the awards in the comments!

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