Diversity debate scores big at NAACP Image Awards

Los Angeles, Feb 6 (IANS) As the Oscars diversity row after this year’s nominations continues to heat up, the 47th annual NAACP Image Awards has tried to wipe out racial slurs from Hollywood by highlighting the power of diversity.

The artistes took jibes at the swirling Oscar diversity row, with the host of the gala Anthony Anderson saying “Look at all of these beautiful shades of people in the audience. Hollywood needs to know that this is what diversity is supposed to look like”.

As actress Taraji P. Henson took home the trophy for Outstanding Actress In A Drama Series at the awards ceremony on Friday night, the star of “Empire” hinted at the issue in her acceptance speech.

She said: “We don’t have to ask for acceptance from anyone. We are enough and we’ve always been enough.”

The awards ceremony, which honours people of colour in the entertainment industry, was held at Pasadena Civic Auditorium amid a widespread debate over racial inequality, reports latimes.com.

Director Spike Lee, who has said he will not attend the Oscar ceremony – scheduled to be held on February 28 – as part of a boycott to protest the lack of diversity in the major acting categories, was seen applauding singer John Legend for his emotional speech about racism.

Anderson did a rendition of N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” dressed as Ice Cube and performed the rap, with adjusted lyrics that touched on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

“Although we have our own awards show, I just want the other ones to be fair. I just hope they don’t go overboard next year and nominate too much black stuff out of guilt,” Anderson said.

Legend called for “radical change” after winning the NAACP President’s Award.

“I accept this award with deep humility and gratitude,” Legend said, and lamented a world in which “the colour of our skin conjures the image of threat and violence”.

“Creed” emerged as the clear winner, taking home trophies for categories like Best Actor (Michael B. Jordan), Best Director (Ryan Coogler) and Best Supporting Actress (Phylicia Rashad).

Jordan also earned the Entertainer Of The Year title.

On the TV side, “Black-ish” swept the TV comedy categories with Anderson winning the award for Outstanding Actor, while the show was selected as Outstanding Comedy Series and his co-star Tracee Ellis Ross was honoured as Outstanding Actress.

In the drama category, “Empire” dominated with wins for Outstanding Drama series, Actor and Actress for Terrence Howard and Henson.

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