Jennifer Hudson's ascension to stardom has been honored pretty much every step of the way.
The Oscar winner was somewhat anachronistically named Outstanding New Artist Thursday at the 40th NAACP Image Awards, which honors achievements by people of color in film, television, music and literature—and which, this year, happened to be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the election of the United States' first black president.
Let's just say, it was quite the proud kudosfest.
"Now don't start me to crying again, y'all," a visibly touched Hudson, who won her first Image Award for acting two years ago, told the standing ovation-prone audience. "Oh my God, it always feels like home coming here. Thank you all so much for all of your amazing support."
Hudson, who came into the evening with a leading seven nominations, walked away with a leading three individual trophies, including Outstanding Album for her self-titled debut and Duo, Group or Collaboration for her duet with Fantasia on "I'm His Only Woman."
She may have lost out on Outstanding Supporting Actress this year to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button's Taraji P. Henson, but at the end of the night Hudson was onstage again as part of the ensemble accepting the Outstanding Motion Picture trophy for The Secret Life of Bees.
Elsewhere on the big screen…Despite the film's mixed reviews, the stars of Seven Pounds, Will Smith and Rosario Dawson, both took home respective wins for Outstanding Actor and Actress in a Motion Picture. Columbus Short won for his supporting role in Cadillac Records.
Said Smith: "I just really want to say to the children out there and to people who are watching—Confucius said one time, 'He who says he can and he who says he can't are both usually right.' So I want to stand here before you and, as I hold this award, I want to give love to my wife and I want you to keep in your heart, just know that you can."
Beyoncé, who opened tonight's ceremony at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium with a performance of "Halo," was named Favorite Female Artist.
In her acceptance speech, Beyoncé thanked "all the other amazing females who were nominated," a list that included 20-year-old Rihanna, who has been the subject of more headlines this week than all the other nominees put together in light of what happened—whatever exactly that might have been—between her and Chris Brown.
Not announced in prime time was Jamie Foxx's win for Favorite Male Artist, a category in which he beat out, among others, defending champion Brown—who might not be hearing the word image for a while without wincing.
Then again, it's not as if the NAACP has been unwilling to embrace the scandal-tinged in recent years. In 2007, when an antigay slur uttered by Isaiah Washington was still reverberating around Hollywood, the soon-to-be fired thesp was named Outstanding Actor in a TV Drama for Grey's Anatomy.
The honor fell this year to repeat winner Hill Harper of CSI: New York, while Washington's former costar Chandra Wilson picked up her first Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a TV Drama.
Off camera, Grey's Anatomy was named Outstanding Drama Series for the fourth year in a row, and Tyler Perry's House of Payne was Outstanding Comedy Series for the second consecutive time and was the most honored program with four awards.
The NAACP Chairman's Award went to Al Gore and Professor Wangari Maathai for their continued work on behalf of the environment. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons won the Vanguard Award for work that has increased society's understanding and awareness of racial and social issues, and boxing great Muhammad Aliad Aliad Ali received the President's Award for his role in furthering the cause of civil rights.
Here are the winners in the major film, TV and music categories at the 40th NAACP Image Awards (for the full list, go to naacpimageawards.net):
• Motion Picture: The Secret Life of Bees
• Actor: Will Smith, Seven Pounds
• Actress: Rosario Dawson, Seven Pounds
• Supporting Actor: Columbus Short, Cadillac Records
• Supporting Actress: Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
• Drama Series: Grey's Anatomy
• Actor in a Drama Series: Hill Harper, CSI: NY
• Actress in a Drama Series: Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy
• Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Taye Diggs, Private Practice
• Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Angela Bassett, ER
• Comedy Series: Tyler Perry's House of Payne
• Actor in a Comedy Series: LaVan Davis, House of Payne
• Actress in a Comedy Series: Tracee Ellis Ross, Girlfriends
• Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Lance Gross, House of Payne
• Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Keshia Knight Pulliam, House of Payne
• TV Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special: A Raisin in the Sun
• Actor in a TV Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special: Sean Combs, A Raisin in the Sun
• Actress in a TV Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special: Phylicia Rashad, A Raisin in the Sun
• Male Artist: Jamie Foxx
• Female Artist: Beyoncé
• New Artist: Jennifer Hudson
• Album Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Hudson
• Song: "Yes We Can," will.i.am.
• Music Video: "Yes We Can," will.i.am
• Duo, Group or Collaboration: "I'm His Only Woman," Jennifer Hudson, featuring Fantasia