LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director and writer Tyler Perry was the big winner at the NAACP’s Image Awards on Friday, winning top awards for his movie “For Colored Girls” and best TV comedy series trophy for “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.”
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the oldest U.S. civil rights organization and has given out Image awards for 42 years to honor people of color in film, television, music and literature.
Perry, 41, one of the most prolific African-Americans in the U.S. entertainment industry, was the man behind wins for comedy actor David Mann in the TV show “Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns,” and Kimberly Elise for her supporting role in “For Colored Girls.”
“For Colored Girls” brought a best movie and best director statue for Perry, who is also a producer, actor and playwright. The movie, based on the play by Ntozake Shange “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf” is based on poems about the lives of women.
“I wanted to take this iconic work and introduce it to people who had never heard of it. ... There is nothing like having nine strong black women holding you up,” Perry said, referring to a cast that included Whoopi Goldberg and Janet Jackson.
Oscar-winner Halle Berry added another trophy to her collection, this time for her best actress performance as a woman with a multiple personalities in “Frankie & Alice.”
“If it were not for the NAACP, a little girl like me would not have had wind beneath her wings in a small town in Ohio,” she said. “I have never been more proud to be a black woman.”
Denzel Washington won the best actor Image Award for the action movie “The Book of Eli.”
Willow Smith, the 10 year-old daughter of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, won the best new music artist award, beating out popular rivals Bruno Mars and rapper Nicki Minaj.
Smith’s first single, “Whip My Hair,” reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in late 2010.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell received the NAACP President’s Award for special achievement in public service, earning a standing ovation.
Powell, the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, paid tribute to the work of the NAACP in advancing civil rights since its foundation in 1909, but said there was more to be done.
“We still have youngsters who are in desperate straits, who need education, who need health care. ... (They) have to be given a sense of expectation,” he said.
“Even though we have come so far, we will need the NAACP for another 100 years, or until the work is done.”
The TV category saw honors for medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” while Vanessa Williams won the best actress Image Award for “Desperate Housewives” and “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara took home the best supporting comedy actress award.
Editing by Todd Eastham