NAACP Image Awards: Taraji P. Henson Says ‘We Don’t Need to Ask for Acceptance From Anyone’

Empire Cast with Taraji P. Henson
Photo by Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock

Hollywood’s elite celebrated the year’s efforts to diversify entertainment Friday night at the NAACP Image Awards, where awards season diversity reigned as a hot topic in the wake of the controversy surrounding 2016’s Oscar nominations.

“We don’t need to ask for acceptance from anyone. We are enough, we’ve been enough and we always will be enough,” said “Empire’s” Taraji P. Henson while accepting her award for outstanding actress in a drama series. “Empire” and “black-ish” topped the television category, both winning three awards.

“Creed’s” Michael B. Jordan also won big, grabbing the awards for outstanding actor in a motion picture and entertainer of the year.  “Straight Outta Compton” was honored with the award for outstanding motion picture.

“We need to do away with the myth that black film doesn’t have a foreign market, because it does,” “Scandal’s” Joe Morton told Variety before the show, held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. “There needs to be somebody who’s either black or brown who’s in a position to greenlight major motion pictures, to tell those stories on that level.  I know that Miss Boone wants to make the [Academy’s] membership more diverse, which will be a big help,” he said.  Morton nabbed the NAACP Image Award for outstanding actor in a drama series, which was presented in a non-televised awards ceremony Thursday night.

 Ice Cube and Michael B. Jordan at the NAACP Image Awards. Photo by Jim Smeal/REX Shutterstock

Contributing to the diversity conversation, “Master of None’s” Lena Waithe added, “All we can do is continue to create great work, so that way we can continue to rally when we aren’t recognized. If we don’t have the stuff out there, we can’t really complain.”

Image Awards host Anthony Anderson channeled rap group N.W.A in his opening performance, rapping a “Straight Outta Compton” spoof about the lack of diversity in this year’s awards season and snubs including “Beasts of No Nation” and “Creed.”  The “black-ish” actor — who picked up the Image Award for outstanding actor in a comedy — donned a hat that read “Nominees With Attitude” during his rap performance.

“Hollywood needs to know that this is what diversity is supposed to look like,” Anderson said following the performance.

The awards ceremony also featured performances by “Empire’s” Jussie Smollett, R&B artist Alice Smith and nine-time Grammy winner John Legend, who was presented with the NAACP President’s Award for his humanitarian efforts.

“We know that we stand on the shoulders of giants who risk their lives to bring us closer to true freedom,” said Legend during his acceptance speech.

Below is the complete list of 47th annual NAACP Image Awards winners:

Outstanding Comedy Series: “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series: Anthony Anderson – “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series: Tracee Ellis Ross – “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Drama Series: “Empire” (FOX)

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: Terrence Howard – “Empire” (FOX)

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series: Taraji P. Henson – “Empire” (FOX)

Outstanding Motion Picture: “Straight Outta Compton” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture: Michael B. Jordan – “Creed” (Warner Bros. Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture: Sanaa Lathan – “The Perfect Guy” (Screen Gems)

Entertainer of the Year: Michael B. Jordan

The winners from last night’s NAACP Image Awards non-televised awards dinner were:

Television Categories

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Mike Epps – “Survivor’s Remorse” (Starz)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Marsai Martin – “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Joe Morton – “Scandal” (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Regina King – “American Crime” (ABC)

Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special: “The Wiz Live!” (NBC)

Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini- Series, or Dramatic Special: David Alan Grier – “The Wiz Live!” (NBC)

Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini- Series, or Dramatic Special: Queen Latifah – “Bessie” (HBO)

Outstanding News/Information (Series or Special): “Unsung” (TV One)

Outstanding Talk Series: “The Talk” (CBS)

Outstanding Reality Program/Reality Competition Series: “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” (OWN)

Outstanding Variety (Series or Special): “Family Feud” (Syndicated)

Outstanding Children’s Program: “Doc McStuffins” (Disney Junior)

Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Mini-Series): Marcus Scribner – “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Host in a News, Talk, Reality, or Variety Program (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble: Steve Harvey- “Family Feud” (Syndicated)

Recording Categories

Outstanding New Artist: Jussie Smollett (Columbia Records)

Outstanding Male Artist: Pharrell Williams (Columbia Records)

Outstanding Female Artist: Jill Scott (Atlantic Records)

Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration: “Conqueror” – Empire Cast feat. Estelle & Jussie Smollett (Columbia Records)

Outstanding Jazz Album:“Miles Davis at Newport 1955-1975: The Bootleg Series Vol.4” – Miles Davis (Columbia Legacy Recordings)

Outstanding Gospel Album (Traditional or Contemporary): “It’s Personal” – Tina Campbell (Gee Tree Creative)

Outstanding Music Video: “Shame” – Tyrese Gibson (Voltron Recordz)

Outstanding Song – Traditional: “Back Together” – Jill Scott (Atlantic Records)

Outstanding Album: “Woman” – Jill Scott (Atlantic Records)

Outstanding Song – Contemporary: “You’re So Beautiful” – Empire Cast feat. Jussie Smollett & Yazz (Columbia Records)

Literature Categories

Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction: “Stand Your Ground” – Victoria Christopher Murrary(Touchstone)

Outstanding Literary Work – Nonfiction: “Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga” – Pamela Newkirk (HarperCollins/Amistad)

Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author: “The Fishermen” – Chigozie Obioma (Little, Brown & Company)

Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Autobiography: “Between The World and Me” – Ta-Nehisi Coates (Speigel & Grau)

Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional: “Soul Food Love:  Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family” – Alice Randall, Caroline Randall Williams (Clarkson Potter)

Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry: “How to Be Drawn” – Terrance Hayes (Penguin Books/ Penguin Random House)

Outstanding Literary Work – Children: “Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America” – Carole Boston Weatherford (Author), Jamey Christoph (Illustrator) (Albert Whitman & Company)

Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens: “X: A Novel” – Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekia Magoon(Candlewick Press)

Motion Picture Categories

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: O’Shea Jackson, Jr. – “Straight Outta Compton” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Phylicia Rashad – “Creed” (Warner Bros. Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture: “Beasts of No Nation” (Netflix)

Documentary Categories 

Outstanding Documentary – (Film): “The Black Panthers:  Vanguard of the Revolution” (PBS Distribution/Firelight Films)

Outstanding Documentary – (Television): “Muhammad Ali:  The People’s Champ” (BET)

Writing Categories 

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series: Kenya M. Barris – “black-ish” – The Word (ABC)

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series: Mara Brack Ali, Jameal Turner, Keli Goff – “Being Mary Jane” – Sparrow (BET)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Television): Lawrence Hill, Clement Virgo – “The Book of Negroes”(BET)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Film): Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington – “Creed” (Warner Bros. Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Directing Categories 

Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series: Don Cheadle – “House of Lies” – The Urge to Save Humanity is Almost Always a False Front for the Urge to Rule (Showtime)

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series: John Ridley – “American Crime” – Episode 1 (ABC)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Television): Dee Rees – “Bessie” (HBO)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Film): Ryan Coogler – “Creed” (Warner Bros. Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Animated or Computer Generated Image (CGI) Category 

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance (Television or Film)

Loretta Devine – “Doc McStuffins” (Disney Junior)

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  1. TeleBox says:

    Taraji is 100% correct. People of Color & women do not need, & have never needed, validation from wealthy, White old men.

  2. Michael Durbin says:

    Wow! Look at the rich diversity of the NAACP awards! Sure, there aren’t any Latinos or Asians but the nominees do range from light-skin blacks to dark-skin blacks. And my what quality nominees, like the leads from the amazing film “The Perfect Guy”, or Chiwetel Ejiofer for his 5 minutes of screen time in the Martian, and who can forget Forest Whitaker’s performance in “Southpaw” – (everyone?). Those are just three of the “top” performances honored by the diversity-loving Image Awards. I guess Latinos, Asians, Etc. weren’t strong enough for the NAACP to honor this year. Certainly, Benico Del Toro in “Sicario” shouldn’t be nominated before the quality performances in “The Perfect Guy”.

    I wonder what steps the NAACP are taking to ensure more diversity next year? I’m assuming Mr. & Mrs. Fresh Prince boycotted the awards because of the lack of diversity?

    #ImageAwardsSoBlack, #hypocrisy

  3. Rok says:

    Yes Taraji , stop asking us whites to accept you. Please leave us alone with your endless grievances. There is a reason a lot of other races don’t want to be associated with blacks.

  4. BLS says:

    Equality through separatism, don’t think so!
    Separatism due to actual inequality….nailed it!

  5. Nah, you don’t need to. Just make up fictional stories about the police harassing your son in a traffic stop to cultivate the victim image… never mind you’re a rich Hollywood 1%er.

  6. Riff says:

    #NAACPImageAwardsSoBlack. Still not seeing any white winners. It’s time we start having a meaningful conversation about the lack of whites nominated for anything at this segregated awards ceremony. What is this? Separate but equal? It is 2016 and this heinous oppression of white people can’t be allowed to continue. Not if we wish to become a truly multicultural planet, nay, galaxy. The NAACP Image Awards MUST have diversity. Where is Che-Boone Isaacs to demand equality when we need her? Where is she to help us begin throwing out all these racist blacks who keep only voting for their own movies? Why is no one arguing that there are no Caucasians being rush-inducted into the NAACP Image Academy to help rectify this travesty of justice? Who will speak up for white peoples’ non-inclusion in yet another segregationists’ calculated attempt in holding back the D.C. beltway’s dream of a melting pot society? How can the Hollywood Chosenites stand by and continue to allow this to happen while saying nothing?

  7. Tracey says:

    Johnny Depp has strong Cherokee Indian heritage which is where he gets his looks from. He never made a show of it, played the race card or tried to say “Hire me because I’m part North American Indian and I’m a minority”. He became a star because he had star appeal and talent. These black entertainers need to shut up. No one wants to hear their whining anymore. And their failure to stick up for other minorities such as Latinos and Asians only makes them look bad.

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