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NAACP Image Awards: 12 Years A Slave is the big winner

12 Years A Slave

Story by Jack Foley

STEVE McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave emerged as the big winner at the 45th annual NAACP Image Awards in America on Saturday, February 22, 2014.

The film, based on the true story of Solomon Northup, won outstanding motion picture, McQueen took the top directing honour and John Ridley was recognised for his script. However, the film picked up only one acting award for Lupita Nyong’o, who was named best supporting actress.

In her acceptance speech, Nyong’o praised Oprah Winfrey, whom she beat to the accolade, calling it “a deep, deep honor to be holding this trophy”.

Winfrey had been shortlisted for The Butler, which nevertheless was recognised with two acting awards of its own – for leading man Forest Whitaker as best actor (ahead of 12 Years A Slave‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor) and for British actor David Oyelowo, who triumphed ahead of his own co-stars Cuba Gooding Jr and Terrence Howard.

Angela Bassett took outstanding motion picture actress for Black Nativity.

On the television side of the awards ceremony, former rapper LL Cool J won outstanding actor in a drama series for NCIS: Los Angeles while Kerry Washington won outstanding drama series actress for Scandal, which was also recognised as outstanding drama series.

Real Husbands of Hollywood won outstanding comedy series, with the show’s Kevin Hart winning acting honors. Hart also picked up an entertainer of the year prize. In addition to headling Real Husbands on TV, he also broke through in movies in a big way this year with roles in Grudge Match, About Last Night and box office smash Ride Along to his name.

The ceremony also included a tribute to late South African President Nelson Mandela, which included a heartfelt speech from Oprah Winfrey, who described him as “humble” and “unscathed by any kind of bitterness”, and a musical tribute by Stevie Wonder.

Music honours were bestowed ahead of the ceremony upon Beyonce, as outstanding female artist, and John Legend, who won outstanding male artist. A further film award was also handed out to Fruitvale Station as best independent film.

The NAACP Image Awards honour the accomplishments of people of colour in television, music, literature and film, as well as those who promote social justice through creative endeavours.

Next awards story: BAFTAs recognise 12 Years A Slave & Gravity