Marsai Martin, Lupita Nyong’o win early NAACP Image Awards

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Marsai Martin

CORRECTS TO SATURDAY, INSTEAD OF FRIDAY Marsai Martin wins the award for outstanding supporting actress in a motion picture for “Little” at the 51st NAACP Image Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

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PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Fifteen-year-old Marsai Martin won outstanding supporting actress in a film for her role in “Little” over superstar names at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, which recognize the achievements of actors, musicians and writers of color.

Martin’s award went with three more she won Friday for her roles in “Little” and the TV show “black-ish” during the non-televised first night of the Image Awards.

“Thank you to all the beautiful black girls out there who inspire me every day,” Martin says as she accepted the supporting actress award at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

She beat out Jennifer Lopez, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer to win.

Lupita Nyong’o, who was not on hand to accept her award, won best actress in a movie for her role in “Us.”

Martin’s “black-ish” cast mate Tracee Ellis Ross won best actress in a TV comedy series, her ninth career Image Award.

“I love being a part of this ever-growing chorus of black women owning our legacies,” Ross said as she accepted the award.

Jamie Foxx won his fifth career Image Award, taking outstanding supporting actor in a film for “Just Mercy.”

It was a big night for “black-ish” all-round, with Anthony Anderson, who won best actor in a TV comedy a night earlier, hosting the show for the seventh time.

“Unlike other awards shows, we actually have black nominees,” Anderson said in his opening monologue at the show televised by BET, taking a shot at the lack of diversity of many of the other shows during Hollywood’s awards season.

The NAACP gave its Chairman’s Award, which goes to people who show exemplary public service and “create agents of change,” to civil rights legend U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.

“The NAACP has been like a bridge over troubled waters,” Lewis, who is suffering from pancreatic cancer, said in a pre-taped acceptance speech from Washington. “We’re going to have some more troubled waters, and we’re going to need the NAACP.”

Rihanna received the NAACP President’s Award for special achievement and distinguished public service. She called for racial, religious and cultural unity during her acceptance speech.

“If there’s anything that I’ve learned, it’s that we can only fix this world together,” Rihanna said. “We can’t do it divided.”

“We’ve been denied opportunities since the beginning of time, and still we prevail,” she said. “Imagine what we can do if we do it together.”

Lizzo leads the nominees for the night’s biggest award, entertainer of the year, to be handed out later Sunday. She will be competing against Tyler Perry, Regina King, Billy Porter and Angela Bassett.

Beyoncé was the big winner at Friday night’s non-televised gala, winning six awards, including outstanding female artist and album.


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