By Dennis J. Freeman
Los Angeles-It was a grand celebration at the 41st NAACP Image Awards with film and television mogul Tyler Perry doing most of the celebrating. In just about all of the NAACP Image Awards’ major categories, it was Tyler Perry or bust.
The Tyler Perry empire reigned supreme in Los Angeles, California where the awards show was held. Whether it was being honored for production and talent on the small screen or being touted for outstanding work in film, the Tyler Perry brand flexed its wide-ranging muscle in front of a nationwide audience as well in front of a packed Shrine Auditorium crowd.
The NAACP pulled out its clout as well, drawing in high-profiled celebrities and dignitaries to the conclusion of its weeklong function at its red carpet event. Golden Globe winning actress Sandra Bullock, who was nominated for an Oscar for role in the hit film “The Blind Side,” walked the red carpet with husband Jesse James locked on her arms.
Morgan Freeman, Nick Cannon, Regina King, Anthony Anderson, CNN’s Roland Martin, Jill Scott, Cicely Tyson, John Legend and Anika Noni Rose were among the many luminaries making an appearance at the two-hour telecast, which aired on Fox Television. Rose and actor Hill Harper hosted the telecast.
Singer Anthony Hamilton, who was nominated for an NAACP Image Awards, called the awards show a celebration of everything that is right in the Afro-American community.
“It’s about black,” Hamilton said. “It’s about the development of black, it’s about building black; not just black, but from our perspective to show people how we celebrate and what we do. There’s so much to our community.”
Part of that building and development Hamilton talked about is uplifting those who have fallen. Van Jones knows all too well about falling all too well. Last year, Jones served in President Barack Obama’s White House as an environmental advisor. Jones stepped down from that job amid a firestorm and controversy swirling around a petition he is alleged to have signed-a petition that tried to tie the Bush administration with the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
After a year of having to deal with stingy rebuke and sharp criticism, Jones genuinely seemed to enjoy a clasp of redemption when the NAACP honored him with the President’s Award.
“I’m honored and deeply moved,” Jones said. “The NAACP has such played a positive role in making America stronger and better. My whole family benefitted from lawsuits they brought to desegregate the same county I grew up in. So, to be on this stage is a big honor for me.”
Jones wasn’t the only big winner on the evening. Wyclef Jean received the Vanguard Award, and music mogul Clarence Avant was inducted into the Hall of Fame. But the night clearly belonged to Perry, who was presented with the NAACP’s Chairman’s Award.
Perry’s plethora of entertainment productions shows how much and how far African American film makers have come. Sure, he made me the latest Hollywood flavor when it comes to prominent black directors, but Perry have shown he is more than a one-trick pony.
Perry’s TV show “House of Payne” walked away with four awards in a comedy series, including outstanding comedy series, best actress in a comedy series (Cassi Davis), outstanding supporting actor (Lance Gross) and outstanding supporting actress (Keshia Knight Pullman).
The Perry machine then dominated the film part of the awards show, winning seven categories. Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe beat out Sandra Bullock for outstanding actress in a motion picture category for her stirring role in “Precious: Based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire.”
“Precious,” which Perry co-produced with Oprah Winfrey, was a victor in six film categories with nods given to director Lee Daniels, screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher and Mo’Nique. Adam Rodriguez solidified Perry’s big night when he captured the outstanding supporting actor in a motion film for his work in “I Can Do Bad All by Myself.”
“Tyler Perry has a huge following and whatever he touches turns to gold,” Gross said backstage after receiving his Image Award. “He rubbed off of me a little bit. It’s a blessing to be honored by the NAACP.”
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers sports, social and racial justice, politics, equal rights, and entertainment. Dennis has over two decades of journalism experience. He earned a degree in journalism from Howard University. “I write what I’m passionate about.”