Beyoncé, Lizzo, Viola Davis Among Early NAACP Image Awards Winners

Photo:  Dominic Lipinski (Getty Images)
Photo: Dominic Lipinski (Getty Images)

The NAACP Image Awards honor artists in TV, film, music, literature, news and activism. Obviously, all of those categories won’t fit in a two-hour televised ceremony. Leading into the live show on Feb. 25, there are four virtual events hosted by actor Khleo Thomas (Shameless). What makes the Image Awards so important is that it’s a chance for Black art to be recognized by Black people. Artists and projects that have been ignored all awards season are finally given their moment on a big stage.

On Monday, things got started with the music categories, and to the surprise of no one, Beyoncé led the way. The artist with the most Grammy wins in history picked up Image Awards for Outstanding Female Artist, Soul/R&B Song for “Cuff It” and Album for Renaissance.

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever grabbed the first of what will likely be multiple awards with a win for Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album, while “Lift Me Up” was named Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album. The film is also nominated for Outstanding Motion Picture; Letitia Wright for Outstanding Actress; Tenoch Huerta for Outstanding Supporting Actor; Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o for Outstanding Supporting Actress; and Outstanding Ensemble Cast.

On Tuesday, awards were handed out for variety, talk show and reality TV series, as well as literary work. Fresh off of adding EGOT to her countless honors, Viola Davis picked up her seventh Image Award, receiving recognition for Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction for her memoir Finding Me. Viola is also nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her breathtaking performance in The Woman King and is one of the nominees in the all-women Entertainer of the Year category. It’s a murderer’s row of badasses as she’s honored alongside Angela Bassett; Mary J. Blige; Quinta Brunson; and Zendaya.

Meanwhile, the first TV trophies were handed out with Lizzo’s inspiring search for new back up dancers, Watch Out For the Big Grrrls, winning for Outstanding Reality Program/Reality Competition Series. If you haven’t had a chance to check out this Prime Video show, you absolutely need to add it to your list. It sidesteps all the usual competition series tropes, and keeps things positive, allowing viewers to get genuinely invested in the dancers’ lives.

You can keep up with all the winners and livestream virtual ceremonies at The 54th Annual NAACP Image Awards, hosted by Queen Latifah, air live Saturday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. on BET. The show will also be simulcast on BET HER, CBS, CMT, Comedy Central, LOGO, MTV, MTV2, Paramount Network, POP TV, Smithsonian, TV Land and VH-1.

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