Angela Bassett, ‘Abbott Elementary’ Win Top Honors at 2023 NAACP Image Awards

Angela Bassett was the big winner at the 54th NAACP Image Awards on Saturday night, earning three awards in total, including entertainer of the year. When she accepted the latter prize, Bassett couldn’t help but parrot the line Ariana DeBose famously rapped about her at the BAFTA Awards earlier in February.

“I guess Angela Bassett did the thing!” Bassett said, to cheers. The star also won for supporting actress in a motion picture for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (which won for outstanding motion picture) and for actress in a TV drama for Fox’s “9-1-1.”

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Abbott Elementary” creator and star Quinta Brunson accepted the award for outstanding comedy series, one of six Image Awards earned by the ABC series. “We’re happy that we get to make this show that is accessible to everyone, but for and by us,” Brunson said.

Will Smith won outstanding actor in a motion picture for his performance in the slavery epic “Emancipation,” his first award since Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars in 2022. Smith did not attend the ceremony, so presenter Janelle Monáe accepted on his behalf.

Host Queen Latifah opened the show with a robust tribute to Black women, shouting out several luminaries in the audience, including Bassett, Serena Williams (who received the Jackie Robinson Sports Award), and best actress in a motion picture winner Viola Davis — who Latifah celebrated for being a newly minted EGOT.

Later in the telecast, Latifah welcomed Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who was detained for 294 days in Russia. Griner made a brief appearance with her wife, Cherelle Griner.

“I want to thank everyone,” Griner said receiving a standing ovation from the room. “Let’s fight to bring home every American detained oversees.”

Though what wasn’t seen on TV, Griner also received a hefty outpour of support from the show’s audience with a second round of applause and standing ovation as a warm “welcome home” gesture during the break once she returned to her seat. Several attendees also popped up by her side throughout the night to take selfies with the WNBA star.

Griner returned to the U.S. last December after spending nine months in a Russian prison on drug charges. Her case drew the attention of millions as activists and figures like Roxane Gay criticized the U.S. government for being slow to take action in bringing her back to her family in America. She was later released as part of a prisoner swap trading illegal arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union-Wade were honored with the President’s Award for their activism and advocacy, especially in support of their daughter Zaya, who came out as trans in 2020.

“Thank you for showing the world what courage looks like,” Wade said, directly addressing Zaya. “You’ve made me a better human just simply by being who you were born to be.”

Union-Wade spoke to the need for greater advocacy for the LGBTQ community. “Even as we demand equality at the top of our lungs, we consistently fail to extend our advocacy to protect some of our most vulnerable among us,” she said. “We honestly don’t approach this work as activists or leaders, as much as we do this as parents — parents who love our children. We’ll do whatever the hell we can to keep them seen and secure and safe.”

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson received the Chairman’s Award for his work chairing the Jan. 6 Committee that investigated the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building in 2021, and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump accepted the Social Justice Impact Award for his service in the cases of Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and currently Tyre Nichols. Crump received a roaring standing ovation during his acceptance speech when he delivered a passionate defense of the teaching of Black American history in public schools.

“Black history is American history and all of our children must know that their culture contributed to the progress and history of the United States of America,” Crump said. “We have to be prepared to fight for our children’s future until hell freezes over, and then we have to be ready to fight on the ice.”

In a room full of Black Hollywood’s most talented players including the likes of Tracee Ellis Ross, Zendaya, Angela Bassett, Jonathan Majors, and more, Crump’s speech became a large highlight of the night with his emphatic message which he delivered as part speech and part sermon.

As he challenged Florida’s elected officials on their stance regarding the banning of AP African American studies, guests in the room burst into applause and excitement from the floor to the balcony. Parts of the crowd remained standing for the entirety of his speech, holding onto his words about Black history’s contributions to the legacy of America.

“We all have a role to play, so I will continue to fight in the court of law and the court of public opinion. And now that they’re trying to ban our most celebrated Black authors and AP African American studies, we must advocate for our children and our culture in the classrooms and demand … that they acknowledge that the teaching of Black history matters,” he told the crowd, calling on the names of notable figures like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and John Lewis to say that each person’s service to America matters. “They were not mere footnotes in the history books. They were the heroes.”

Prior to the telecast, the organization held virtual ceremonies honoring music, podcasts, literary work, reality programming, television and motion pictures. NAACP virtual winners include “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” for outstanding ensemble cast in a motion picture; Quinta Brunson and “Abbott Elementary” for breakthrough creative (television); Viola Davis’ “Finding Me” for literary work (non-fiction); Stacey Abrams and Kitt Thomas’ “Stacey’s Remarkable Books” for literary work (children); Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” for album; Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” for music video; Jennifer Hudson’s “The Jennifer Hudson Show” for host in a talk or news/information, series or special (individual or ensemble) and “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” for variety or game show (series or special).

See the full winners list below.

Entertainer of the Year

Angela Bassett (WINNER)
Mary J. Blige
Quinta Brunson
Viola Davis

Outstanding Motion Picture

“A Jazzman’s Blues”
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (WINNER)
“The Woman King“

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

Joshua Boone — “A Jazzman’s Blues”
Jonathan Majors — “Devotion”
Will Smith — “Emancipation” (WINNER)
Sterling K. Brown — “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul“
Daniel Kaluuya — “Nope”

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

Danielle Deadwyler — “Till”
Keke Palmer — “Alice”
Letitia Wright — “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
Regina Hall — “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul“
Viola Davis — “The Woman King” (WINNER)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Aldis Hodge — “Black Adam”
Cliff “Method Man” Smith — “On the Come Up”
Jalyn Hall — “Till”
John Boyega — “The Woman King“
Tenoch Huerta Mejía — “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (WINNER)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Angela Bassett — “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (WINNER)
Danai Gurira — “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
Janelle Monae — “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”
Lashana Lynch — “The Woman King“
Lupita Nyong’o — “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture

“Mr. Malcolm’s List”
“Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story“
“The Inspection” (WINNER)

Outstanding International Motion Picture

“Bantú Mama” (WINNER)
“Learn to Swim“
“The Silent Twins”

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in a Motion Picture

Jalyn Hall — “Till” (WINNER)
Joshua Boone — “A Jazzman’s Blues”
Ledisi — “Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story”
Y’lan Noel — “A Lot of Nothing“
Yola — “Elvis”

Outstanding Comedy Series

“Abbott Elementary” (WINNER)
“Rap Sh!t”
“The Wonder Years”

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series

Mike Epps — “The Upshaws”
Donald Glover — “Atlanta”
Anthony Anderson — “Black-ish”
Cedric the Entertainer — “The Neighborhood” (WINNER)
Dule Hill — “The Wonder Years”

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series

Loretta Devine — “Family Reunion”
Maya Rudolph — “Loot”
Quinta Brunson — “Abbott Elementary” (WINNER)
Tichina Arnold — “The Neighborhood”
Tracee Ellis Ross — “Black-ish”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Kenan Thompson — “Saturday Night Live”
Brian Tyree Henry — “Atlanta”
Deon Cole — “Black-ish”
Tyler James Williams — “Abbott Elementary” (WINNER)
William Stanford Davis —”Abbott Elementary”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Janelle James — “Abbott Elementary” (WINNER)
Sheryl Lee Ralph — “Abbott Elementary”
Jenifer Lewis — “Black-ish”
Marsai Martin — “Black-ish”
Wanda Sykes — “The Upshaws”

Outstanding Drama Series

“P-Valley” (WINNER)
“Queen Sugar”

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

Damson Idris — “Snowfall”
Jabari Banks Glover — “Bel-Air”
Kofi Siriboe — “Queen Sugar”
Nicco Annan — “P-Valley” (WINNER)
Sterling K. Brown — “This is Us”

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

Angela Bassett — “9-1-1” (WINNER)
Brandee Evans — “P-Valley”
Queen Latifah — “The Equalizer”
Rutina Wesley — “Queen Sugar”
Zendaya — “Euphoria”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Adrian Holmes — “Bel-Air”
Amin Joseph — “Snowfall”
Caleb Mclaughlin — “Stranger Things”
Cliff “Method Man” Smith — “Power Book II: Ghost” (WINNER)
J. Alphonse Nicholson — “P-Valley”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Adjoa Andoh — “Bridgerton”
Bianca Lawson — “Queen Sugar”
Loretta Devine — “P-Valley” (WINNER)
Susan Kelechi Watson Martin — “This is Us”
Tina Lifford — “Queen Sugar”

Outstanding Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special

“The Black Hamptons”
“From Scratch”
“The Best Man: The Final Chapters” (WINNER)
“The Last of Ptolemy Grey”
“Women of the Movement”

Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special

Morris Chestnut — “The Best Man: The Final Chapters” (WINNER)
Samuel L. Jackson — “The Last of Ptolemy Grey”
Terrence Howard — “The Best Man: The Final Chapters”
Trevante Rhodes — “Mike”
Wendell Pierce — “Don’t Hang Up”

Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special

Niecy Nash — “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” (WINNER)
Regina Hall — “The Best Man: The Final Chapters”
Sanaa Lathan — “The Best Man: The Final Chaptersr”
Viola Davis — “The First Lady”
Zoe Saldana — “From Scratch”

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