‘The Harder They Fall’ up for NAACP Image Award honors

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — “King Richard,” “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “The Harder They Fall” will be among the competitors for top film honors Saturday evening at the 53rd NAACP Image Awards, with Jennifer Hudson, Denzel Washington and Will Smith up for top acting honors.

The awards celebrate “outstanding achievements and performances of people of color” in categories including film, television, music, literature and podcasts.

What You Need To Know

  • Competing for best motion picture will be “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “King Richard,” “Respect,” “The Harder They Fall” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”
  • The top film honors will be presented Saturday night during a two-hour televised special hosted by Anthony Anderson at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in California
  • Samuel L. Jackson will receive a Chairman’s Award in recognition of his public service and advocacy for social change
  • During the ceremony, Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will receive a President’s Award in recognition of their dedication to public service

The bulk of the awards in the television, music and other categories were handed out during a series of pre-telecast virtual ceremonies over the past five days. The top film honors will be presented Saturday night during a two-hour televised special hosted by Anthony Anderson at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in California.

There will not be a formal live ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hudson is among the five nominees for entertainer of the year, along with Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Nas X, Regina King and Tiffany Haddish.

Competing for best motion picture will be “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “King Richard,” “Respect,” “The Harder They Fall” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.”

Denzel Washington and Will Smith are nominated for best actor in a motion picture for their work in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and “King Richard,” respectively. Also nominated are Jonathan Majors for “The Harder They Fall,” LaKeith Stanfield for “Judas and the Black Messiah” and Mahershala Ali for “Swan Song.”

Hudson is also up for the best actress award for “Respect.” She is being challenged in the category by Andra Day for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” Halle Berry for “Bruised,” Tessa Thompson for “Passing” and Zendaya for “Malcolm & Marie.”

During the ceremony, Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will receive a President’s Award in recognition of their dedication to public service. The Duke and Duchess will also join with the NAACP to present the inaugural NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award to Safiya Noble, a professor of gender studies and African-American studies at UCLA. The award recognizes “leaders creating transformational change — at the intersection of social justice and technology — to advance civil and human rights.”

Also during the event, Samuel L. Jackson will receive a Chairman’s Award in recognition of his public service and advocacy for social change. Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the 1619 Project, will receive the Social Justice Impact Award.

Fresh off her recent performance during the Super Bowl LVI halftime show, Mary J. Blige will perform during the Image Awards telecast, which will air on BET, tape-delayed at 8 p.m. on the West Coast. Among those scheduled to serve as presenters during the telecast are Issa Rae, Kerry Washington, LL Cool J, Michael Strahan, Morgan Freeman, Paula Patton, Questlove, Simu Liu, Tiffany Haddish and Zendaya.