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NAACP Image Awards 2013: Kerry Washington and Denzel Washington triumph

Django Unchained, Kerry Washington

Story by Jack Foley

KERRY Washington and Denzel Washington were among the big winners at the 44th NAACP Image Awards.

Washington took home a total of three honours with the first being her supporting actress role in Quentin Tarantino’s western Django Unchained.

She also landed a second acting award for her work in drama series Scandal and, thirdly, the President’s Award for public service, in recognition of her work on behalf of President Obama.

Commenting on her award for Django, the tearful actress said: “This award does not belong to me. It belongs to our ancestors. We shot this film on a slave plantation in the South. They were with us every step of the way.”

She also praised Tarantino, whose film has been heavily criticised for its violence and language (especially the use of the N-word in America), adding: “Thank you for telling this story no matter what anyone says.”

Denzel Washington won best actor in a motion picture for Flight, a film for which he has also been Oscar nominated as an airline pilot who is revealed to be an alcoholic following a plane crash.

Further movie awards went to Viola Davis, who took home best actress in a motion picture for Won’t Back Down, Samuel L Jackson for his role in Django Unchained and the George Lucas-produced Red Tails, which was named best motion picture ahead of Django.

The film, which honours the achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, was a surprise victor and prompted Star Wars creator Lucas to joke: “Look, I beat Quentin Tarantino!”

He did, however, choke up when thanking the group of African-American World War II pilots whose story is chronicled in the film.

Beasts of the Southern Wild took home the best Independent Motion Picture.

In other TV awards, Don Cheadle followed up his Golden Globe win by nabbing best actor in a comedy series for Showtime’s House of Lies.

While LL Cool J won best dramatic actor for his role in NCIS: LA and promptly dedicated his win to the late Michael Clarke Duncan, who died in September, saying: “He was a good man, and I wish his family well.”

Another notable prize went to Harry Belafonte, who was presented with the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP’s highest honour, by Sidney Poitier.

He subsequently used his acceptance speech to call for social change, asking why the African-American community remains mute when it comes to gun violence.

Jamie Foxx, who followed Belafonte to the stage to accept the entertainer of the year award, was visibly moved by his colleague’s comments, saying: “After watching and listening to Harry Belafonte speak, somehow I feel like I failed a little bit in being caught up in what I do. I guarantee you I’m going to work a whole lot harder.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Awards ceremony was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Next awards story: The Sapphires sweeps Australian movie awards