Entertainment & Arts

The Help dominates NAACP Image awards

Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis
Image caption Octavia Spencer (l) and Viola Davis have both been nominated for Oscars

Oscar contender The Help has been named best picture at this year's NAACP Image Awards, winning additional prizes for stars Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.

Davis was named best actress and Spencer best supporting actress for their roles in the civil rights drama.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's event also saw Star Wars creator George Lucas receive a special award.

The US awards show honours diversity in film, television, music and literature.

Accepting her honour, Davis said The Help - about maids employed in 1960s Mississippi - had "just been the joy of my life".

"I found my voice," she told the audience at the Shrine Auditorium. "I just emerged through The Help."

Lucas received his Vanguard award from actor Samuel L Jackson in recognition of his recent movie Red Tails, about African-American pilots who fought in World War II.

The producer said he had made the film to "show that everybody has contributed to building this country into what it is today".

Jennifer Hudson, who won the outstanding album prize for I Remember Me, paid tribute to the Star Wars creator with a rendition of Ain't No Mountain High Enough.

Friday's event also saw Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte present an honorary award to the Black Stuntmen's Association.

The organisation was established in 1967 to break racial barriers and earn black performers a place alongside white stuntmen in film and TV.

Image caption Hudson won the outstanding album prize for her I Remember Me record

Comedy Jumping the Broom picked up three awards, for lead actor Laz Alonso, supporting actor Mike Epps and director Salim Akil.

There were also prizes for Cee Lo Green and jazz singer Jill Scott, named voted best male artist and best female artist respectively.

Regina King was named outstanding actress in a TV series for her role in SouthLAnd.

As she accepted her award, King thanked the NAACP for "continuously providing a stage to recognise and applaud us".

"We need it," she added. "There is some magnificent talent here that would not be recognised otherwise."

Other television awards went to Laurence Fishburne for his role in HBO movie Thurgood and Tyler Perry's House of Payne series.

Tributes were paid to the late Whitney Houston during the show, which ended with gospel singer Kirk Franklin performing her 1986 hit The Greatest Love of All.

Radio pioneer Cathy Hughes accepted the Chairman's Award at a separate ceremony in New Jersey.

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