The 43rd Annual NAACP Image Awards, hosted Friday by Sanaa Lathan and Anthony Mackie, bestowed another trifecta of wins on The Help—Outstanding Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer, Outstanding Actress for Viola Davis and, the biggest award of the night, Outstanding Motion Picture.
But movies were almost a footnote tonight...
After the show opened with some rockin' vibes from Lenny Kravitz, we were of course anticipating what would be done in tribute to the late Whitney Houston.
Of course, that didn't happen until almost the end of the show.
First, we got a few moments of comedy from a bantering Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier as they presented the President's Award to the Black Stuntmen's Association, a group that was established in 1967 to help break racial barriers and establish a place for African-American performers next to white stuntmen in film and television.
The laughs ultimately segued to misty eyes as some of the original BSA members gave an emotional acceptance speech.
Star Wars aficionado Samuel L. Jackson presented George Lucas with the Vanguard Award for his genre-bending body of work, including the recent Red Tails, about the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II—a number of whom were present to applaud the filmmaker in person.
Lucas said he made the film to "show that everybody has contributed to building this country into what it is today."
Some of television's biggest winners tonight were Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm-Jamal Warner for their roles in the comedy Reed Between the Lines, and Regina King was named outstanding actress in a drama series for SouthLAnd.
After an in-memorium segment introduced by Vanessa Williams, it was time for the Whitney tribute.
It started with footage of Denzel Washington presenting her with the Image Award for outstanding female artist in 1994, along with photos, clips and performances from the singing diva, after which came a very powerful live performance by Yolanda Adams. The gospel singer, backed by a choir, belted "I Love the Lord, He Heard My Cry."
"We love you, Nip," Adams said in conclusion.
Get the complete list of winners from the 43rd NAACP Image Awards right here.