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08 December 2023

Precious sweeps NAACP Image awards; singer Wyclef Jean honoured for Haiti efforts

From left: Lee Daniels, Mo'Nique, Gabourey Sidibe and Paula Patton; the director and cast of Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire. (AP)

By Jill Serjeant

Independent movie Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire swept the NAACP Image Awards on Friday, winning six trophies including best movie and best actress for newcomer Gabourey Sidibe.

The harrowing tale of an abused, obese Harlem teen also brought an Image award for comedy actress Mo'Nique, whose performance as a manipulative mother is the favourite for a best supporting actress Oscar in March.

Precious also won for best independent movie and Lee Daniels picked up the best director prize for the film.

The oldest US civil rights organisation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has given out the Image awards for 41 years to honour people of colour in TV, film, music and literature.

An emotional Sidibe dedicated her award to "all the Precious girls everywhere. This is for you", she said.

Daniels, also fighting back tears, recalled how big Hollywood studios told him repeatedly that "no one wanted to see a movie about a 350-pound black girl, who is struggling and who has HIV".

Morgan Freeman won best actor for playing former South African President Nelson Mandela in the movie Invictus, and R&B star Mary J Blige won two music awards for best female artist and best album for Stronger With Each Tear. Hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean won the NAACP's Vanguard trophy for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of his native Haiti.

Jean, a founding member of the Fugees, was a leading celebrity campaigner for Haiti disaster relief after January's devastating earthquake in the poverty-stricken Caribbean nation.

Jean, who started the evening singing with Haitian musicians and Mexican-born guitarist Carlos Santana, dedicated his award to "all of those people you'all don't see working on the ground in Haiti and in America."

Tyler Perry's House of Payne swept the TV comedy category, winning four awards including best series and best comedy actress for Cassi Davis. The ABC Family channel drama Lincoln Heights won for best TV drama.

Perry who writes, acts, directs and produces movies, was also presented with the NAACP Chairman's award, which recognises special achievement and public service.

"I want to use my gift to make you not only laugh but think… to show us we don't just have to just act in the sitcom, but we can own the show and the network,'' he said.

In the literature category, Deborah Willis won for her biography of US first lady Michelle Obama, and David Bergen Brophy was honoured for his children's book Michelle Obama: Meet the First Lady.

President Barack Obama, America's first black president, was saluted during the ceremony by Van Jones, the former White House special advisor for green jobs, who was presented with the NAACP President's award for promoting environmental justice.

"He [Obama] volunteered to become captain of the Titanic after it hit an iceberg – and it's still floating,'' Jones said to cheers from the packed audience. (Reuters)


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