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Usher, Fantasia Barrino, ‘Color Purple’ Honored at 55th NAACP Image Awards

Usher was named entertainer of the year at the 55th annual NAACP Awards on Saturday night (March 16), which highlighted works by entertainers and writers of color.

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After Usher accepted his award at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the superstar R&B singer spoke about being thankful about the journey of his successful career that has lasted three decades.

He reeled off several of his recent big moments including his sold-out residency in Las Vegas, getting married, releasing his ninth studio album Coming Home and his Super Bowl halftime performance, which became the most-watched in the game’s history.

Usher beat out Colman Domingo, Fantasia Barrino, Halle Bailey and Keke Palmer.

“I don’t know how many people do that much stuff in one setting,” said the multi-Grammy winner, who was presented the award by Oprah Winfrey. After being surprised by Winfrey’s presence, he thanked those who have supported him throughout the years.

“This is for you, you, my number ones,” the singer said as the audience repeated his words back to him. The final words of his speech were recited lyrics from his popular song “Superstar” from his 2024 album Confessions, which has sold more than 10 million units in the U.S.

Earlier in the ceremony, Usher was honored with the President’s Award for the singer’s public service achievements through his New Look Foundation. He thanked the strong women in his life, including his mother and wife Jenn Goicoechea, whom he married after his Super Bowl halftime performance last month.

“The say behind or beside or with every strong man is a stronger woman,” he said.

Queen Latifah hosted the awards ceremony aired live on BET.

The Color Purple was awarded best motion picture. The musical film featured star-studded cast including Barrino, Taraji P. Henson, Domingo, H.E.R., Danielle Brooks, Corey Hawkins and Bailey.

Barrino, who starred as Celie in the film, won for best actress in a motion picture.

“I didn’t prepare a speech, because I didn’t think I was going to win,” the singer-actor said. “I was afraid to play Celie, but I’m glad I did. Because I kept saying ‘If I don’t win an award, the awards that I will win will come from the people who watched Color Purple and the women who will relate to her and feel like Oscars when they walk out.’”

New Edition was inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame. The induction is bestowed on individuals who are viewed as pioneers in their respective fields and whose influence shaped their profession.

“We stand here in brotherhood,” said Michael Bivins while his group members behind him. The Grammy-nominated group includes Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, Ronnie DeVoe and Ricky Bell.

“You’ve seen our story. You know what we’ve been through,” said Bivins, who spoke about the group overcoming conflict and tension in their earlier years to now holding a residency in Las Vegas.

“But we call each other every day,” he continued. “We text each other every day. We check on our families. You watched us grow up. We’re still growing.”

Damson Idris won best actor in a drama television series for his role in Snowfall. Henson and Domingo took home best supporting roles in The Color Purple. Domingo also won best actor in a motion picture for his role in Rustin.

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