Barbadian singer, songwriter, actress, business entrepreneur and philanthropist Rihanna Fenty received the NAACP Image Award’s highest honor, a President’s Award, on Saturday at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in California. Previous recipients of this prestigious award, which is presented in recognition of a special achievement and distinguished public service, include Jesse Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Soledad O’Brien, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Muhammad Ali.
The Grammy award winning singer, who has been recognized for embracing various musical styles throughout her career, has built beauty and fashion empires with Fenty Beauty and the lingerie brand Savage x Fenty, which saw her become the first woman of color to partner with LVMH and the first woman to start an original brand for the world’s largest luxury group. She has also used her influence for several philanthropic efforts and founded the Clara Lionel Foundation, which supports and funds groundbreaking and effective education and emergency response programs around the world.
Rihanna, on Saturday, used the stage for a motivating speech, which brought audiences to their feet. After thanking everyone watching for supporting people of color, she encouraged everyone to support each other. “We can only fix this world together. We can’t do it divided,” she stated. “I cannot emphasize that enough. Tell your friends to pull up for imagine what we can do together.”
Other winners included singer Lizzo who took the top honor for Entertainer of the Year. The film “Just Mercy” earned Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx acting nods while Lupita Nyong’o won for her overlooked performance in “Us.” Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Netfliix drama, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” earned him the Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Film) trophy.
In the television category, Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross received repeat nods for “Black-ish,” the Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series went to “50 Cent” Jackson for “Power” and Angela Bassett received the Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for the Fox show “9-1-1” while the Eddie Murphy’s Netflix comedy “Dolemite is My Name” received the Outstanding Independent Motion Picture.
The 51st NAACP Image Award also paid tribute to the late basketball star Kobe Bryant decking the stage with a basketball net and Bryant’s jersey.
By Samantha Ofole-Prince/Photos by Royalty Image