The 2016 NAACP Image Awards was a night to celebrate the fullness of Black excellence in all of its forms.
With a handful of major awards being handed out on Wednesday night, viewers may have been wondering what there was actually left to experience at the 47th Annual Image Awards. However, anyone that tuned in knows there was still plenty to take in at the event, and we’ve broken down some of the best moments of the night.
Anthony Anderson Brings Bars And Shade
The show opened with a tribute/parody of NWA with performance from Nominees With Attitude and their song “Straight Outta Hollywood.” During the opening set, Anthony questioned why Black-ish didn’t get any love at the Emmys, and he criticized the fact that neither Michael BAE Jordan nor director Ryan Coogler were recognized for Creed at the Golden Globes.
Black-ish Won Big
Snagging awards for both Outstanding Actor and Actress In A Comedy Series, the cast and crew of Black-ish brought all of their families on stage to accept the award for Outstanding Comedy Series. It was probably one of the Blackest moments of the evening. Don’t get mad at us, Anthony said it!
Tracee Ellis Ross Ignores The Wrap Music
There were a lot of awards to get through at the 2016 NAACP Image awards, so winners didn’t have a lot time to make their acceptance speeches. Producers were quick on the button with that wrap music, but they underestimated how much she had to say.
She had an incredibly passionate speech, and her moment was not to be disrupted. Tracee had a lot to say about how grateful she was not just for the award, but also the event itself. And she let her feminist flag fly while celebrating the fact that all of the women got to be celebrated for being funny without having to be a stereotype.
Empire Dominated The Drama Category
Not unlike Black-ish, Empire had a huge night. Both Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard took home the awards for Outstanding Actress and Actor In A Drama series respectively. Then the show won for Outstanding Drama Series.
Hey, Will & Jada!
Anthony pointed out that Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith were front row-center for tonight’s ceremony. Given Jada‘s call for Black people to focus their talents on creating out own content given the #OscarsSoWhite fiasco, it would have been a huge surprise if they stayed home.
“They better be in here after all this is they started,” Anthony said, swiftly following up with a joke about some of their recent drama. “Janet Hubert, who played Aunt Viv, is here.”
Janet never actually appeared, but those fireworks would have been amazing.
Straight Outta Compton Finally Got Its Props
After being snubbed by the Academy in every way, the cast and crew behind Straight Outta Compton took home the award for Outstanding Motion Picture.
Going up against Dope, Beasts Of No Nation, Concussion, and Creed. The award was well-deserved and well-earned, but Ice Cube made it a point to recognize the other nominees and shared the award with them.
The Image Awards Teaches The Academy A Little Something About Diversity
It’s true that the NAACP Image Awards are focused on uplifting Black art and activism, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room to welcome others. Gina Rodriguez of Jane The Virgin was nominated for Outstanding Actress In A Comedy Series, and Ken Jeong presented the award for Outstanding Actor In A Drama Series.
Beyond that, many of the winners for group awards for projects brought their teams on stage with them. And do you know what we saw? A patchwork of people of different kinds working together to create incredible content. It’s a step in the right direction, and Hollywood should be taking note.
Sylvester Stallone Joins The Party
Sylvester Stallone was welcomed with a standing ovation when he came out to present Creed for Outstanding Motion Picture, and it seemed that the crowd had forgiven him for his major faux pas at the Golden Globes. How are you gonna forget the director and the lead actor?!
As though he was keenly aware of the criticism he got for that mistake, he noted that he was surprised to get such a warm welcome, stating, “I certainly didn’t expect that.”
Michael BAE Jordan Was Adorbs
Michael B. Jordan won the award for Outstanding Actor In A Motion Picture, and had what had to be the sweetest acceptance speech of the night. He didn’t even attempt to play it cool as he got on stage.
“They got that ticking clock over there; it’s crazy. I know how Sly felt at the [Golden Globes]. It’s rough,” Michael said before launching into a verbal love letter to God and his family.
Unfortunately, he also forgot to thank Ryan Coogler! Where’s the love? It’s ok, though! He got a chance to correct the mistake when he returned to stage moments later to accept the Entertainer of the Year Award.
“Man I forgot my director last time I was up here!” Michael said. “Ryan Coogler, that man is a genius. I don’t know where I would be without him.”
Michael couldn’t believe he was being recognized again, and he didn’t initially count himself among the talent that he was up against.
“Honestly, I thought it was a typo when I was in this category anyway,” Michael confessed. “I’m blessed to be in a category with Viola Davis, and Misty Copeland, and Pharrell…and Shonda Rhimes is a genius who owns Thursday nights. It’s amazing!”
“I’m proud to be Black in this room,” Michael said, sharing his humble beginnings 12 years ago. “I use to sneak into the Image Awards and now I’m standing here as the Entertainer of the Year.