‘The Color Purple’ cast tops NAACP Image Awards

March 18, 2024 - 11:35 AM
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Cast members from "The Color Purple" Halle Bailey, Taraji P. Henson and Danielle Brooks speak on stage during the 30th Screen Actors Guild Awards, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 24, 2024. (Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)

While “The Color Purple” actor Danielle Brooks didn’t take home the Oscar for best supporting actress at the Oscars last weekend, she and cast members took home the NAACP Image award on Saturday for outstanding motion picture.

On the red carpet, Brooks told Reuters that out of all her accolades, she’s most grateful to the NAACP awards for acknowledging “The Color Purple” team with several nominations.

“If nobody gonna see us, I’m glad that our people see us,” she said, referencing the film’s lack of nominations throughout the 2024 awards season.

While Hollywood has made progress on diversifying talent and storytelling since the 2015 outcry of #OscarsSoWhite – when all 20 acting nominations went to white actors – the pace of change still has not leveled the playing field for some.

Most recently, indigenous actor Lily Gladstone lost to Emma Stone for the best actress Oscar despite Gladstone being the awards frontrunner, having won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award for her role in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

The Image Awards organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) are considered the top entertainment honors focused on Black actors.

Brooks wasn’t the only one relishing the celebrations. Fellow cast members Fantasia Barrino and Taraji P. Henson also took home awards.

Barrino took home outstanding actress and Henson won outstanding supporting actress for their roles in the musical adaptation of the 1985 film.

These historical wins come after the original 1985 adaptation of the Alice Walker novel was met with controversy by many Black-led organizations, including the NAACP.

For many within the Hollywood branch of the Black civil rights organization, Steven Spielberg’s movie adaptation of “The Color Purple” was seen as degrading to Black men.

The film follows the story of two Black American teenage sisters, Celie and Nettie, in the American South during the early 1900s.

Celie embarks on a journey to find her freedom and must overcome years of abuse, after she and Nettie are separated by the men in their lives.

The original film starring Whoopi Goldberg gained eleven Oscar nominations, but it failed to win a single one.

Similarly, the 2023 musical adaptation directed by Ghanaian filmmaker Blitz Bazawule didn’t have any major cast members take home Hollywood’s biggest prize.

Other Image winners include poet and activist Amanda Gorman, who one the chairman award; R&B singer Usher, who won the entertainer of the year award; and “Rustin” actor Colman Domingo, who won the outstanding actor award.

For many Black actors, this year’s nominations served as inspiration for their own careers to flourish.

As “Ghosts” actor Danielle Pinnock told Reuters: “We would not be able to play all these roles without all the people that paved the way for us, you know?”

— Reporting by Danielle Broadway; Editing by Tom Hogue