Academy Award-nominated director beats field including Bruno Mars, Issa Rae, Jay Z
Ava DuVernay's win as Entertainer of the Year at the NAACP Image Awards came as a surprise to at least one person -- the filmmaker herself.
"What is going on? I’m a director. I shouldn't be up here!" DuVernay said, appearing somewhat stunned as she took the stage at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium to accept the award.
DuVernay indeed was the only non-performer up for the top honor of the night. Her competition in that category included three recording artists -- Bruno Mars, Chance the Rapper and Jay Z -- as well as actor Chadwick Boseman and actress and producer Issa Rae.
There is a lot of darkness in this world, but tonight I feel the warmth on me and I appreciate it.
"There is a lot of darkness in this world, but tonight I feel the warmth on me and I appreciate it," she told the audience. "You know why — because I’m in a room with all these dynamic artists."
DuVernay thanked her collaborators on the recent projects that helped propel her to the Entertainer of the Year award -- credits that include the Academy Award-nominated documentary 13th, the Jay Z music video "Family Feud," and her TV series Queen Sugar.
In her rousing speech she saluted fellow artists of color who are creating powerful work on television and in film, from Shonda Rhimes to Donald Glover, Kenya Barris and Jordan Peele. She highlighted the release next month of Ryan Coogler's film Black Panther, starring Boseman and Michael B. Jordan. And she mentioned her own highly-anticipated film coming out in March: A Wrinkle in Time, starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Pine.
The NAACP Image Awards aired live on TV One. Click here to watch DuVernay's full acceptance speech.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.