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Taraji P. Henson Named NAACP’s Entertainer of the Year at Image Awards

NAACP Image Awards: Taraji P. Henson
Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

The NAACP honored Taraji P. Henson with its Entertainer of the Year Award at Friday night’s 46th Image Awards, capping off a year for Henson that included a star turn in “No Good Deed,” for which she received an Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, and a starring role in Fox’s breakout drama “Empire.”

The show was hosted by Anthony Anderson, who kicked off the night with a rousing riff on Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” that included a Hallelujah shoutout to his “Black-ish” co-star Tracee Ellis Ross. The duo would unite onstage early and often in the evening, first when Ross presented Anderson the award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series.

Ross wouldn’t be off the stage for long, as she received the award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series later in the ceremony, and the two were reunited to accept the Image Award for Outstanding Comedy Series for “Black-ish.”

Following the ceremony Anderson said, after numerous Image Award nominations but no wins it was about time he won one, before heaping praise on the rest of the “Black-ish” cast and crew, as co-stars Yara Shahidi and Laurence Fishburne received Image Awards at Thursday’s gala dinner.

“I almost feel vindicated, almost. It took me ten nominations over the course of twenty years,” Anderson joked. “I’m happy and humbled by this … but what i’m most excited about (is) that we won this together as a family, because that’s what we are and that’s what we do.”

Ross and Anderson’s ABC comedy was the biggest winner in a big night for network television, with ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” winning Outstanding Drama Series and star Viola Davis winning Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series. Shemar Moore received recognition for his role in CBS’ “Criminal Minds” as well, winning Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series.

The network recognition didn’t stop there; 45 awards were announced at Thursday evening’s gala, with five more awards for ABC series and one for NBC’s “Parks and Rec.” It was a big night for “Black-ish” as a whole, as not even through its first full season, it added five Image Awards to its growing acclaim, the most of any television show.

In the wake of its Oscar snubs, “Selma” proved to be another celebrated winner at the Image Awards, winning both Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for David Oyelowo and Outstanding Motion Picture. Oyelowo’s acceptance speech in particular, in which he thanked his wife and called for more support for women filmmakers, touched the crowd, bringing it first to tears and then to its feet.

The NAACP presented three activists and media figures with honorary awards, including Attorney General Eric Holder, who received the Chairman’s Award, chosen by chairman of the NAACP national board of directors, Roslyn M. Brock. Record producer and industry executive Clive Davis received the Vanguard Award. Davis helped launch the careers of artists and bands including Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen.

Finally, Spike Lee received the NAACP President’s Award, chosen by NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks. Lee said he was grateful for the award, and indicated that, after a prolific career that began with his first short film, “Last Hustle in Brooklyn,” in 1977, he doesn’t see himself retiring any time soon.

“I’m 57 now, one of my favorite filmmakers is the master Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosowa, who was in his early eighties and still making films, so I have no intention of slowing down,” Lee said.

Lee also spoke of how filmmaking has changed since he began, mentioning the novel fundraising for his next film, “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.”

“My new film, ‘Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,’ we raised the money on Kickstarter. We raised $1.4 million, and it’s whole different stuff,” Lee said. “This whole world has changed in filmmaking.”

He also graced the press with his favorite line from a Spike Lee Joint.

“I did a film called ‘Bamboozled,’ and there’s a scene where … the great actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd is auditioning and Damon Wayans asks does he know any Shakespeare,” Lee began. “And he says, ‘Yeah, I know Shakespeare.’ And he says, ‘To be or not to be, that’s the motherf—ing question.’ It’s funny to me! That’s one of my favorite lines.”

A full list of winners and reactions can be found below:

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
Taraji P. Henson, “No Good Deed”

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
Shemar Moore, “Criminal Minds”
Moore said, “I’m shook. It hasn’t hit me at all, because I did not see it coming at all. I think I’m a good actor, but I wasn’t faking the funk up there. I was like, ‘Uhhh…Hi Oprah.'”

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series
Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish”

Outstanding Comedy Series

Outstanding Drama Series
“How to Get Away with Murder”
“I think this show resonates so well with people because like Viola always says, she wants to play a real woman and wants to be a real woman on stage, and I think people really want to see that,” said costar Aja Noami King. “And beyond the casting and the talent, our writers and our creators have created a phenomenal show that gives you a glimpse inside a world that is a pretty crazy world. … It’s just…it’s delicious.”

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
David Oyelowo, “Selma”

Outstanding Motion Picture

Entertainer of the Year
Taraji P. Henson

Thursday night’s winners are below:


Outstanding Literary Work — Fiction
“A Wanted Woman” – Eric Jerome Dickey (Penguin Random House)

Outstanding Literary Work — Non-Fiction
“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” – Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau)

Outstanding Literary Work — Debut Author
“Forty Acres” – Dwayne Alexander Smith (Atria Books)

Outstanding Literary Work — Biography/Autobiography
“Breaking Ground:  My Life in Medicine” – Louis Sullivan with David Chanoff (University of Georgia Press)

Outstanding Literary Work — Instructional
“Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life” – Joe Brewster, Michele Stephenson, Hilary Beard (Spiegel & Grau)

Outstanding Literary Work — Poetry
“Citizen: An American Lyric” – Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press)

Outstanding Literary Work — Children
“Dork Diaries 8: Tales From A Not-So Happily Ever After” – Rachel Renee Russell with Nikki Russell and Erin Russell (Simon & Schuster)

Outstanding Literary Work — Youth/Teens
“Brown Girl Dreaming” – Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books)


Outstanding New Artist
3 Winans Brothers (BMG)

Outstanding Male Artist
Pharrell Williams (Columbia Records)

Outstanding Female Artist
Beyoncé (Columbia Records)

Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration
“Stay With Me” – Sam Smith feat. Mary J Blige (Capitol)

Outstanding Jazz Album
“My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke” – Al Jarreau (Concord)

Outstanding Gospel Album (Traditional or Contemporary)
“Where My Heart Belongs” – Gladys Knight (Shadow Mountain Records)

Outstanding Music Video
“You and I (Nobody in the World)” – John Legend (Columbia Records)

Outstanding Song
“We Are Here” – Alicia Keys (RCA Records)

Outstanding Album
“Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” – Aretha Franklin (RCA Records)


Outstanding Character Voice—Over Performance
Loretta Devine – “Doc McStuffins” (Disney Junior)


Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series
Sara Hess – “Orange is the New Black” – It Was the Change (Netflix)

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series
Erika Green Swafford – “How to Get Away With Murder” – Let’s Get To Scooping (ABC)

Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie
Shernold Edwards – “A Day Late and a Dollar Short” (Lifetime Networks)

Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series
Ken Whittingham – “Parks and Recreation” – Prom (NBC)

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series
Carl Franklin – “House of Cards” – Chapter 14 (Netflix)

Outstanding Directing in a Television Movie
Reggie Bythewood – “Gun Hill” (BET)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Laurence Fishburne – “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Yara Shahidi – “black-ish” (ABC)

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

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Khandi Alexander – “Scandal” (ABC)

Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special
“The Trip to Bountiful” (Lifetime Networks)

Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special
Blair Underwood – “The Trip to Bountiful” (Lifetime Networks)

Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini–Series, or Dramatic Special
Cicely Tyson — “The Trip to Bountiful” (Lifetime Networks)

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

Outstanding Talk Series
“Steve Harvey” (Syndicated)

Outstanding Reality Series
“Iyanla: Fix My Life” (OWN)

Outstanding Variety (Series or Special)
“Oprah’s Master Class” (OWN)

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

Outstanding Performance by a Youth in a Youth/ Children’s Program (Series or Special)
Fatima Ptacek – “Dora and Friends: Into the City!” (Nickelodeon)

Outstanding Host in a Talk, Reality, News/Information, or Variety Series
Steve Harvey – “Steve Harvey” (Syndicated)


Outstanding Documentary — (Film)
“Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” (Chimpanzee Productions, Inc.)

Outstanding Documentary — (Television)
“Bad Boys” (ESPN)


Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture
Misan Sagay – “Belle” (Fox Searchlight Pictures/DJ Films)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture
Antoine Fuqua – “The Equalizer” (Columbia Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Common – “Selma” (Paramount Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Carmen Ejogo – “Selma” (Paramount Pictures)

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture
“Belle” (Fox Searchlight Pictures/DJ Films)