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2024 NAACP Image Awards: ‘The Color Purple’ Tops Winners as Usher Wins Entertainer of the Year

The Color Purple topped the 2024 NAACP Image Awards.

The Blitz Bazawule-directed remake was named best motion picture and took home three more awards during the televised awards show Saturday night. Going into the telecast, the movie had already won seven awards, presented during non-televised ceremonies earlier this week, from its 16 nominations. So, in total, The Color Purple took home 11 NAACP Image Awards.

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Producer Oprah Winfrey was a surprise presenter for the NAACP Image Awards’ top prize of Entertainer of the Year, which went to President’s Award honoree Usher, and when she took the stage towards the end of the telecast she shared her appreciation for “all of this Color Purple love.”

Earlier, star Danielle Brooks accepted the best motion picture award as best actress winner Fantasia Barrino and supporting actress recipient Taraji P. Henson were part of the group joining her onstage.

Brooks thanked the film’s cast and crew and “those that came before us,” referencing the 1985 film version of Alice Walker’s novel, which starred Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg.

“This story truly is our cinematic heirloom,” Brooks said. “We pray this story continues to heal families’ trauma … [and] hope we continue to …. become heroes and she-roes of our story.”

During her best actress acceptance speech, an emotional Barrino appeared overwhelmed as she said, “I don’t even have a speech because I didn’t think I was going to win.”

She added, “I was afraid to play Celie, but I’m glad I did because I kept saying if I don’t win an award, the awards that I will win is the people that will watch The Color Purple and the women who will relate to her and who will feel like Oscars when they walk out [of the theater].”

Thanking God, she said of her award, “This does not make me, but I thank you for it.” And she ended her speech singing “To God be the Glory.”

Queen Latifah hosted the 55th annual edition of the awards, which aired on BET and CBS. The televised ceremony, which began more than 20 minutes after its scheduled start time of 8 p.m. ET and didn’t end until 10:30 p.m. ET (the awards were set to air delayed on the West Coast at 8 p.m. PT), came after the NAACP presented awards in non-televised categories earlier this week.

Latifah kicked off the show with a cold open featuring the host receiving a call from Vice President Kamala Harris backstage. Later, onstage, Latifah pretended she received a call from President Joe Biden on her cellphone. She joked with both Biden and Harris about getting them some high-quality Usher sweat.

During her monologue, Latifah shouted out people in the audience and name-checked notable Black figures who made significant achievements over the past year including Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Patrick Mahomes, Usher, Coco Gauff, Beyoncé and Tracy Chapman, jokingly calling Luke Combs’ cover of “Fast Car,” “the first time a Black artist actually gave consent to a white person to take a song.”

Harris had urged Latifah to remind people of the 2024 elections and told her to tell the audience to register to vote and check their voting status at vote.gov, and Latifah did just that after addressing some key issues, including pay inequality in Hollywood.

“Everybody keeps talking about inflation,” Latifah said. “You know what’s not feeling inflation?”

“Equal pay for Black actresses,” Taraji P. Henson chimed in from the audience. The Color Purple star, who won the first award of the evening for her role in the film, has been outspoken about her struggles to receive increased compensation despite her long career, including awards recognition for her performances in hit projects.

Latifah thanked Henson for “standing up for all of us” and invited other Black actresses in the audience to stand and then others in the room to stand to show their support.

“We’ve always done more than just survive, we thrive, while this country, our country, is going through it,” Latifah said. “But we’re here, because it is our place, and we have to save it — again.” She urged people to go to the polls in November and “stand up for what’s right.”

As she accepted her supporting actress award, Henson said she was surprised but “grateful.”

“Thank you for showing up for me all the time,” she told the audience, going on to allude to her comments about pay inequality.

“It’s a scary thing to speak your truth, but I urge you all to speak your truth because at the end of the day, that’s all we have,” Henson said. “The truth will set you free, and, not only that, it will set someone else free.”

She went on to thank “every woman, person in this struggle together.” She also thanked The Color Purple cast, crew and Winfrey.

Snowfall star Damson Idris won best drama actor, his first NAACP Image Award, for his role in the FX crack series, which wrapped its six-season run last year.

During his speech, he referenced how his mother “flew 17 hours from Lagos, Nigeria” to be there with him.

“She said ‘Damson, if I come to Los Angeles, you better win,'” Idris recalled before shouting out his “Snowfall family.”

He went on to say he was “honored” to be “standing among” his “heroes” who won that award, those in the audience and people who make “art for the past, present and future.”

He also joked about Denzel Washington saying he didn’t know who Idris is, saying, “Hopefully Denzel knows who I am now.”

Queen Charlotte star India Ria Amarteifio beat out a number of big names, including Latifah, for the best drama actress award.

Accepting her prize, she said the win was “mental” and though she prepared a speech she wasn’t going to grab it out of her bag.

“This show has made me feel so grounded in what it means to be a Black person and a Black woman,” she said.

Damson Idris India Ria Amarteifio
Quinta Brunson, Damson Idris and India Ria Amarteifio accepting their NAACP Image Awards

After Abbott Elementary won best comedy series and supporting actor in a comedy series (William Stanford Davis) on Thursday night, star Quinta Brunson won best comedy actress on Saturday night, her third NAACP Image Award for her starring role in the ABC sitcom.

She began her speech by telling the crowd that she lost her earrings and asked them to keep an eye out. Saying she’s “extremely honored,” she also thanked the NAACP for recognizing Abbott.

Two-time winner Colman Domingo, who won best actor in a motion picture for his role in Rustin and best supporting actor for his role in The Color Purple, and Mike Epps, who won best comedy actor for The Upshaws, weren’t in attendance Saturday night.

Accepting the best actor award on his behalf, Henson joked that Domingo would have to “come to the house and get it.”

After the awards, Domingo posted on Instagram that he wasn’t able to make it because he’s currently working in Toronto and a little under the weather.

“I had an overnight last night with stunts and everything, and I knew it was really dicey for me to even get on a plane,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I could get on a plane today and then get back because I have a 4 a.m. call Monday — very tight weekend. That’s the only reason I couldn’t be there.”

He went on to show off his outfit, which he wore to dinner with his director and Cameron Bailey, joking the meal with three Black men was their own NAACP Image Awards.

Domingo then thanked the NAACP for his awards for Rustin and The Color Purple.

In addition to the competitive awards, New Edition was inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame. Donnie Wahlberg presented the group with their honor, saying they not only “changed the music industry forever” they “also changed my life forever.”

“Without New Edition there is no New Kids on the Block, no Backstreet Boys, no NSYNC, no Justin Bieber, One Direction, Harry Styles,” Wahlberg said. “We all owe our success to the greatest of all time.”

Accepting the Hall of Fame honor, Ronnie DeVoe said, “So many people poured into us in the 40-plus years that we’ve been in the music industry. God, our creator; our parents, who gave us the gifts and talents that we turned into our purpose; a gentleman that gave us our name, Mr. Brooke Payne. Gifts and talents — it’s like coal without someone to refine it and put the pressure, it doesn’t turn into the diamonds that you see standing before you. So we thank you, Mr. Brooke Payne.”

Michael Bivins added, “We stand here in brotherhood. Y’all seen our story. You know what we’ve been through. … Y’all watched us grow up, we’re still growing.”

Usher received the President’s Award, delivering a long speech (he kept talking after the music signaling for him to wrap up played: “I know you’re trying to wrap me up, but I’m not going to speed up,” he said.) in which he praised his mother, New Edition (“If I had not seen and been inspired by New Edition, I would not be the artist that I am.”), his fellow nominees, his “beautiful wife, Jennifer [Goicoechea]” and his family, including his kids, saying “I’m a dad who’s just trying to get it right every day.”

“My heart is beating really, really fast, but it’s good. It beats with passion,” Usher said as he took the stage. “I’m very, very honored to receive this amazing award from the depths of my soul.”

And he began by paying tribute to his mother: “Far too often in our industry, women do not get the recognition they truly deserve. And when we first started, it was even harder for a mother to believe in the dreams that I had,” he said of his mom who he noted raised him without a father. “If anyone deserves it more than anybody, it’s her. Because the tenacity it took to look within a male-dominated industry and believe in your son unwaveringly, no matter how hard those boardrooms may have been. … Because of that, I have this moment. Mom, I want you to know how much I love appreciate, honor, recognize, appreciate you.”

Later, accepting Entertainer of the Year from Winfrey, Usher recalled how he got his start on her show, seeing the win as a full-circle moment.

“I guess all great things start with Oprah Winfrey,” he said.

And Amanda Gorman was recognized with the Chairman’s Award, delivering a poem as she accepted her honor.

“We must transform our dreams into fact from fiction,” she said in part. “We have birthed this nation — become visible, indivisible and vibrant in our fight even as we win it. We cannot just possess a vision of justice. We must be able to picture ourselves within it. It’s how we honor our ancestors and more it’s how we inspire our successors. … We’ve always had windows into the world but at last the world has windows into us. We have mirrors of our past, our present, our possibility and all the future that we share. May we see all that we could be if we dare.”

The 2024 NAACP Image Awards took place two days before Latifah’s 54th birthday on March 18 and the host’s Living Single co-star Erika Alexander surprised Latifah by wishing her a happy birthday. As a cake was wheeled out onstage, Sheryl Lee Ralph led the audience in a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday.”

Andra Day performed during the “In Memoriam” segment. Presenters included Alexander, Henson, Wahlberg, Delroy Lindo, Deon Cole, Diarra Kilpatrick, Idris Elba, Jeffrey Wright, Keke Palmer, Kenya Barris, Kerry Washington, Leslie Jones, Lil Rel Howery, Morris Chestnut, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Sabrina Elba and Sterling K. Brown.

Winners in non-televised categories were announced in virtual ceremonies on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday, more winners were named during a non-televised gala event at the Hollywood Palladium hosted by Sherri Shepherd, who also took home the award for outstanding host in a talk or news/information series or special. Thursday night’s winners included Ayo Edebiri, who added to her awards season haul with a best supporting actress in a comedy series prize for The Bear. Best drama series went to Queen Charlotte while the supporting actor and actress in a drama series awards went to Bel-Air‘s Adrian Holmes and Snowfall‘s Gail Bean, respectively. Swarm won in the best TV movie, limited series or dramatic special category. Additionally, Thursday, Ava DuVernay won best directing in a motion picture for Origin, and Cord Jefferson followed his best adapted screenplay Oscar with an outstanding writing in a motion picture win for American Fiction. Singer-songwriter Frankie Beverly also received the NAACP Image Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

Friday, additional awards were presented at a fashion show hosted by Brandee Evans. There, The Color Purple swept the three categories presented, winning best costume design, hair styling and make-up. And June Ambrose received the NAACP Vanguard Award for Fashion.

A complete list of the winners in categories presented Saturday night follows.

Entertainer of the Year

Colman Domingo
Fantasia Barrino
Halle Bailey
Keke Palmer
Usher (WINNER)

Outstanding Motion Picture

American Fiction (Orion Pictures / Amazon MGM Studios)
Origin (NEON)
Rustin (Netflix)
The Color Purple (Warner Bros. Pictures) (WINNER)
They Cloned Tyrone (Netflix)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

Colman Domingo – Rustin (Netflix) (WINNER)
Denzel Washington – The Equalizer 3 (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Jamie Foxx – The Burial (Amazon MGM Studios)
Jeffrey Wright – American Fiction (Orion Pictures / Amazon MGM Studios)
John Boyega – They Cloned Tyrone (Netflix)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

Aunjanue Ellis–Taylor – Origin (NEON)
Fantasia Barrino – The Color Purple (Warner Bros. Pictures) (WINNER)
Halle Bailey  – The Little Mermaid (Walt Disney Pictures)
Teyana Taylor – A Thousand And One (Focus Features)
Yara Shahidi – Sitting in Bars with Cake (Amazon MGM Studios)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Colman Domingo – The Color Purple (Warner Bros. Pictures) (WINNER)
Corey Hawkins – The Color Purple (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Glynn Turman – Rustin (Netflix)
Jamie Foxx – They Cloned Tyrone (Netflix)
Sterling K. Brown – American Fiction (Orion Pictures / Amazon MGM Studios)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Danielle Brooks – The Color Purple (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Da’Vine Joy Randolph – The Holdovers (Focus Features)
Erika Alexander – American Fiction (Orion Pictures / Amazon MGM Studios)
Halle Bailey – The Color Purple (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Taraji P. Henson – The Color Purple (Warner Bros. Pictures) (WINNER)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series

Cedric The Entertainer – The Neighborhood (CBS)
Delroy Lindo – UnPrisoned (Hulu/Onyx)
Dulé Hill – The Wonder Years (ABC)
Mike Epps – The Upshaws (Netflix) (WINNER)
Tone Bell – Survival of the Thickest (Netflix)

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series

Kerry Washington – UnPrisoned (Hulu/Onyx)
Meagan Good – Harlem (Amazon Prime Video)
Michelle Buteau – Survival of the Thickest (Netflix)
Quinta Brunson – Abbott Elementary (ABC) (WINNER)
Tichina Arnold – The Neighborhood (CBS)

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

Damson Idris – Snowfall (FX) (WINNER)
Forest Whitaker – Godfather of Harlem (MGM+)
Idris Elba – Hijack (Apple TV+)
Jabari Banks – Bel–Air (Peacock)
Jesse L. Martin – The Irrational (NBC)

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

Angela Bassett – 9–1–1 (FOX)
India Ria Amarteifio – Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (Netflix) (WINNER)
Octavia Spencer  – Truth Be Told (Apple TV+)
Queen Latifah – The Equalizer (CBS)
Zoe Saldaña – Special Ops: Lioness (Paramount+)

This story was first published on March 16 at 5:27 p.m.

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