Actors Kevin Hart, Forest Whitaker are big winners at NAACP awards

Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:45am EST
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By Mary Milliken

PASADENA, California (Reuters) - Comedian and actor Kevin Hart won the coveted Entertainer of the Year at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, while Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker was honored with awards for both his career and his latest role as a White House butler.

One week before the Academy Awards, one of the frontrunners for best picture "12 Years a Slave" won the best motion picture award for the real-life story of an American slave, while newcomer Lupita Nyong'o won best supporting actress for her first film role in the brutal drama.

The Image Awards organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are considered the top entertainment honors from an African American point of view and brought together a star-studded crowd that included talk show host and media magnate Oprah Winfrey, British actor Idris Elba and actress Kerry Washington.

Many award winners and presenters made note of the strong year for film based on African American themes and acclaimed performances from black actors, from both the United States and the United Kingdom.

The NAACP paid tribute to the late South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela with a presentation from Winfrey, who opened a girls school in South Africa to honor the statesman, and a musical performance by Stevie Wonder.

The 34-year-old Hart won the most coveted award of the night in a year that has seen the Philadelphia native's career take off.

He is currently starring in the films "Ride Along" and "About Last Night." He also stars as himself in "Real Husbands of Hollywood," for which he won best actor in a comedy series, while the show won the award for best TV comedy.

"I am on my toes right now," joked Hart, who stands just 5 foot, 4 inches, as he collected the top award.   Continued...

Show host Anthony Anderson presents the entertainer of the year award to actor Kevin Hart (C) during the 45th NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, California February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok