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Stars Win Big at the 45th Annual NAACP Awards

Lupita Nyong'o, Kevin Hart and Forest Whitaker are honored at the 45th annual NAACP awards. 

In what was a standout year for people of color in the entertainment industry, Black Hollywood’s biggest stars gathered Saturday for the 45th Annual NAACP Image awards.

ESSENCE’s Black Women in Hollywood honoree Lupita Nyong’o kicked off the event, accepting the first award of the evening for her supporting actress role in 12 Years a Slave.

Nyong’o thanked Oprah Winfrey who was also nominated for the award, calling it “a deep deep honor to be holding this trophy.”

The critically acclaimed biopic of the life of Solomon Northop won big as Steve McQueen took home the top directing honors and John Ridley won an award for his writing in the slavery drama. 

Funnyman Kevin Hart also had an outstanding year, breaking records and dominating both the big and small screens. Hart took home the top honor as the Entertainer of the Year. 

Hart’s The Real Husbands of Hollywood also nabbed an award for Outstanding Comedy Series with Hart taking the Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series honor for his antics on the show. 

ESSENCE magazine’s March cover star, Forest Whitaker won Outstanding Motion Picture Actor for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, he was also honored with this year’s Chairman Award for his commitment to promoting diversity through his outstanding career.

An emotional Whitaker told The Hollywood Reporter, “I have so much admiration for the NAACP and what they’ve done, what they’ve accomplished and how they’ve changed this planet.”

ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood honoree Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was presented with the NAACP Hall of Fame award for consistently excelling in her career. 

On the small screen, Kerry Washington took one home for all of the gladiators, winning Outstanding Drama Series actress for ABC’s Scandal and Idris Elba won an award for his role on BBC America’s Luther.

Oprah Winfrey delivered a moving speech in memory of the late Nelson Mandela midway through the program. Stevie Wonder followed with a musical tribute. 

In the music world, Beyonce was honored with the Outstanding Female Artist award, while John Legend won Outstanding Male Artist. 

The star-studded ceremony, which aired live Saturday on TV One was hosted by comedian and actor, Anthony Anderson.