12 Years a Slave swept the film categories at the NAACP Image Awards with four wins.
The historical epic’s prizes at Saturday’s 45th annual ceremony honoring diversity in the arts included outstanding motion picture, directing for Steve McQueen, writing for John Ridley and supporting actress for Lupita Nyong’o.
“It’s been a historical year in film for all of us in this room, and I’m so proud to be a part of that history,” Nyong’o said. “It’s such an honor to be recognized for a film that has meant so much to so many people, a film that has inspired discourse long overdue.”
Kevin Hart won as entertainer of the year and actor in a comedy series for Real Husbands of Hollywood, his BET reality TV lampoon that was also selected as outstanding comedy series.
Kerry Washington picked up her fifth Image Award: outstanding actress in a drama series for her role as crisis management consultant Olivia Pope on ABC’s Scandal, which was also honored as outstanding drama series.
Other winners at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium ceremony hosted by actor Anthony Anderson included Steve Harvey as talk show and David Oyelowo as supporting actor in a motion picture for Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
“Thank you, America, for embracing me,” the British actor said. “I’m one of those guys with the funny accent.”
Forest Whitaker won the actor in a motion picture prize for The Butler. Whitaker, who founded the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, was also honored with the NAACAP Chairman’s Award, which recognizes distinguished public service. Whitaker serves as the chairman of the International Institute for Peace and is a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
“All I’ve tried to do with my life and work is to deeper my connection with humanity, so I’ve lived by the words of an old Nat King Cole song my daddy used to play on his stereo, which is, ‘The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return,’” said Whitaker.
Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, the late South African leader who died last year.
“We can each reflect, I do believe, the greatness he inspired in all of us,” said Winfrey. “I have to say sitting at his funeral and watching that casket go into the ground, I miss him dearly. I want you all to know that his life was an example to us all.”
Several winners were previously announced, including music honorees John Legend as male artist, Beyonce as female artist and Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell as group or collaboration for their hit tune “Blurred Lines.”
The awards are presented annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the civil rights group’s members select the winners.