As expected, The Help was the film to beat at the 2012 NAACP Image Awards, and was victorious three times over during the live ceremony held Friday, Feb. 17, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Aside from winning in the coveted Outstanding Motion Picture category, Octavia Spencer took home an award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, while her co-star Viola Davis won in the Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture category.
Both Davis and Spencer will end a whirlwind award season at the Oscars next week, where they are both up for big awards. For Davis, despite some of the criticism that the film has received for its subject matter, accepting the role as Southern maid Aibileen Clark was a no-brainer for Davis.
"I felt that [the black maid] kind of remained a stereotype [in past films]," the 46-year-old told The Root following her win. "Just kind of a cardboard cut-out, and very seldom had she been humanized, and very seldom do you see black characters and white characters in relationships with each other, where their lives interact, and friendships are formed. Usually, it's just a black film or a white film. I love the fact that they went on a journey. These ordinary girls became extraordinary women."
Hosted by Sanaa Lathan and Anthony Mackie, the show kicked off with Lenny Kravitz taking the stage to perform his songs "Black and White," and "Are You Gonna Go My Way." Among the other showstopping sets was a heartfelt tribute to Whitney Houston, helmed by Yolanda Adams, who brought the house down with her rendition of "I Love the Lord, He Heard My Cry."
Filmmaker George Lucas, who most recently produced the film Red Tails, received the Vanguard Award for his contributions to the industry, and Radio/TV One founder Cathy Hughes was honored with the Chairman's Award for her entrepreneurial feats in broadcasting. Veteran actors Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte honored the founding members of the Black Stuntmen's Association with the President's Award for penetrating racial barriers, and making it possible for black stuntmen to work alongside whites.
In the television category, Tyler Perry's House of Pain won for Outstanding Comedy, ABC's Dancing With the Stars was awarded in the Outstanding Reality Series cateogry, while Oprah's Lifeclass took home the award in the Outstanding Talk Series category.
The night's other winners included Jennifer Hudson, who took home two awards, one for Outstanding Album for her sophomore release I Remember Me, and her video “Where You At,” filmed in her hometown of Chicago, took Outstanding Music Video honors.
For a full list of winners, click here.
Latifah Muhammad is a Los Angeles-based journalist and a contributor to The Root.