Celebrities from stage, film and television came out to the 22nd Annual NAACP Theatre Awards presented by the NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch. The star studded gala was held at the Director Guild of America in Hollywood. Among the presenters were Debbie Allen, Samuel Jackson, Tichina Arnold, Blair Underwood, Kate Burton, Nicole Ari Parker, James Pickens, Jr. and Selita Ebanks. Other attendees on the red carpet were Jamie Kennedy, Lisa Raye McCoy, Vicci Martinez (The Voice), and Richard Roundtree who, incidently began his career as an actor on the stage.
Comedian George Wallace served as the Master of Ceremonies. Wallace reminded the audience of his long-time membership in the NAACP. He has participated in a number of NAACP related events. Few hardly noticed Katherine Jackson and other members of the Jackson family as they quietly worked their way towards their seats.
Ari Nicole Parker was honored with the Spirit Award. James Pickens, Jr, received the Lifetime Achievement Award to a standing ovation. Stephen Byrd and Alia Jones, the only African Americans to have produced on Broadway and London’s famous West end were the recipient of the Trailblazer award. The Humanitarian Award was presented posthumously to the late Willis Edward, who served for years as an NAACP Vice President and board member who was one of the key forces for bringing the NAACP Awards to television. Edwards made history alongside Rosa Parks as a Congressional Medal of Honor winner and his image on a U.S. postage stamp.
Warner Brothers recording artist Leela James and Shoshana Bean received thunderous applause after performing a number from the stage play Wicked.
“We (African Americans) have a rich history in entertainment”, said Blair Underwood, further commenting, “it is extremely exciting to see how much we have achieved by paying tribute to those who have kept us on top of our game through their commitment to erasing stereotypes and giving us the roles we deserve, roles that are based on character and content.”
For more information go to www.naacp.org