Saturday night’s 54th annual NAACP Image Awards once again brought together a star-studded group of nominees across TV and film (despite the rainstorm flooding and causing power outages in several areas across Los Angeles).
But some of the best moments of the show, hosted by Queen Latifah and held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, didn’t make it to air. With The Hollywood Reporter on the carpet and inside the room, here are the top things the TV cameras didn’t show.
When the Red Carpet Becomes a Runway
Zendaya and her stylist, image architect Law Roach, appeared on the carpet just before it closed, but that didn’t stop every camera from rising to attention in order to capture what was sure to be an inspiring, archival look. The two are known for their creative chemistry (Zendaya’s awareness of how to strut, pose, and find her angles is the perfect canvas for Roach’s CFDA Fashion Award-winning eye) and last night didn’t disappoint: the Euphoria actress was seen wearing a strapless silk gown from Atelier Versace’s spring/summer 2002 collection. Later on, she changed into a two-piece set from Prada’s spring/summer 1993 collection (which was originally worn on the catwalk by supermodel Yasmeen Ghauri). Designer Miuccia Prada himself helped the actress update the ensemble’s trousers into a skirt for the occasion.
Curating Rihanna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show
Adam Blackstone, a multi-instrumentalist and music director, shared how he tackled the herculean task of organizing Rihanna’s massive discography of hits into a cohesive halftime show for this year’s Super Bowl LVII held at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. “Having to put such a catalog show together in 13 minutes, we had to hit everybody’s favorite moment fast,” Blackstone told THR. “It showed me how to make the moments impactful and she trusted me to put that all together musically; her pop stardom and iconicness were on full display. I think we did a good thing for the culture and a good thing for music that night.”
The Revival Renaissance
Some films and TV shows are so resonant, particularly within the specific community they represent, that over time they become more than just entertainment, and are instead woven into the cultural memory. Last night made a case for bringing this type of content back, and reviving it for new audiences — and the loyal fans they captured first.
“These stories about family and friendship and love are evergreen,” Malcolm D. Lee, director of the 1999 film The Best Man, told THR. The cult classic has now been reimagined as a series on Peacock as The Final Chapters, and Lee shared that part of what made the timing right to explore these characters again was that he was “finally able to get everyone’s schedules together.” But good thing he did, because the show has apparently been well received: “I knew [that people] were going to binge watch, but I didn’t know they were going to binge watch several times … four, five, sometimes eight times!”
The original Proud Family debuted on Disney Channel in 2001 and made waves for depicting an authentic (albeit animated) Black family, providing representation before the buzzword became more mainstream. Now, it has been reanimated as The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder on Disney+ and Kyla Pratt spoke about reprising her role as Penny Proud as an adult.
“I feel very fortunate, [there aren’t] a lot of times as an artist that you get to relive playing a character that you played 20 plus years ago, and being able to see your growth in every way,” she said. “Being a young girl — I was 14 years old — I didn’t like my voice. I feel like one day I woke up and it was raspy and I was like ‘What is this?’ So to be the woman that I am today, to be doing all types of voiceovers now and knowing I can change my voice and play different characters … [it’s great] just seeing the confidence blossom that should’ve always been there.”
Rethinking Oscar “Snubs”
Two films directed by Black women, Chinonye Chukwu’s Till and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Woman King, both made headlines for receiving zero 2023 Oscar nominations, despite strong reviews and box office success. The NAACP Image Awards acknowledged both films (they got six and nine nominations, respectively) and NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson addressed this gulf with THR on the carpet.
“We are self-validating, we don’t need any other institution to validate our talent, our art, our gifts, and our contribution to shaping American culture,” he said. “Till was an amazing film, The Woman King I’ve seen about four times and I get chills every time … we don’t need outside validation, we have it here.”
Paying It Forward
Ruth E. Carter, the award-winning costume designer most notably for her work on Black Panther, hosted a creative “Icons of Afrofuture” Design Challenge in collaboration with Detroit’s Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design, which gave four students the opportunity to design her dresses for the NAACP Image Awards and Costume Designers Guild Awards. Last night, Carter wore a sculptural ensemble designed by Keanu Williams, who joined her on the carpet and inside the auditorium.
Commercial Break Selfies
Several stars got up to roam the room, exchange hugs and congratulations, and take photographs with their friends when the cameras stopped rolling during commercial breaks. Black-ish co-stars Marsai Martin, Yara Shahidi, and Tracee Ellis Ross all greeted each other and stopped for a couple selfies.
Stars — They’re Just Like Us!
The inclement weather caused slight delays, resulting in a surge of later arrivals down the carpet not long before the show began. Though much of the audience was seated at the top of the show, many attendees (talent and media included) were held in the auditorium’s lobby while the cameras first started rolling. As everyone waited for the first commercial break to be let in and find their seats, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s Tenoch Huerta was seen comfortably waiting amongst everyone for his turn, too.
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