2022 NAACP Image Awards: ‘The Harder They Fall,’ Jennifer Hudson, ‘Insecure,’ Jazmine Sullivan are the top winners

February 26, 2022

Regina King, Idris Elba and LaKeith Stanfield in “The Harder They Fall” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Netflix’s Western drama “The Harder They Fall” and Jennifer Hudson were the top winners at the 53rd NAACP Image Awards. Winners for most of the categories were announced over a five-day period, from February 21 to February 25, 2022. The rest of the winners were revealed during a live BET special, hosted by Anthony Anderson, on February 26, 2022. The ceremony was held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. Voting was open to the public on www.naacpimageawards.net. Internationally, the show will air on BET Africa at 20:00 CAT on February 27, 2022, followed by BET France on March 2 at 8:45 pm CEST. The show will also be available to watch on My5 and Sky On-Demand in the United Kingdom, beginning March 1, 2022.

“The Harder They Fall” won five of its 12 nominations: Outstanding Motion Picture; Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture; Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (for Regina King); Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture), for writer/director Jeymes Samuel; and Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album. Hudson won the prizes of Entertainer of the Year and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, for starring in the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect.”

In the television categories, HBO’s “Insecure” won the most prizes (four) for the show’s final season: Outstanding Comedy Series; Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (for Issa Rae); Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (for Natasha Rothwell); and Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (for Issa Rae). In the music categories, Jazmine Sullivan was the top winner, with three NAACP Awards: Outstanding Album (for “Heaux Tales”); Outstanding Female Artist; and Outstanding Soul/R&B Song (for “Pick Up Your Feelings”).

Special (non-competitive awards) were also given in the following categories:

  • Humanitarian of the Year: Darnella Frazier
  • President’s Award: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
  • Chairman’s Award: Samuel L. Jackson
  • Roy Wilkins Civil Rights Award: Mexican American Legislative Caucus, Texas House Democratic Caucus, Texas Legislative Black Caucus
  • Social Justice Impact Award: Nikole Hannah-Jones
  • Youth Activist of the Year: Channing Hill
  • Activist of the Year: Scot X. Esdaile
  • NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award: Safiya Noble

Here is the complete list of winners of the 2022 NAAP Image Awards:


Entertainer of the Year
Jennifer Hudson*
Lil Nas X
Megan Thee Stallion
Regina King
Tiffany Haddish

Outstanding Motion Picture
“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
“King Richard” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
“Respect” (Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/United Artists Releasing)
“The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)*
“The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Hulu)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Denzel Washington – “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (Apple TV+ / A24)
Jonathan Majors – “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)
LaKeith Stanfield – “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Mahershala Ali – “Swan Song” (Apple TV+)
Will Smith – “King Richard” (Warner Bros. Pictures)*

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
Andra Day – “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Hulu)
Halle Berry – “Bruised” (Netflix)
Jennifer Hudson – “Respect” (Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/United Artists Releasing)*
Tessa Thompson – “Passing” (Netflix)
Zendaya – “Malcolm & Marie” (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Algee Smith – “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Daniel Kaluuya – “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros. Pictures)*
Delroy Lindo – “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)
Idris Elba – “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)
LaKeith Stanfield – “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Aunjanue Ellis – “King Richard” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Audra McDonald – “Respect” (Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/United Artists Releasing)
Danielle Deadwyler – “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)
Dominique Fishback – “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Regina King – “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)*

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture
“American Skin” (Vertical Entertainment)
“Bruised” (Netflix)
“CODA” (Apple TV+)*
“Test Pattern” (Kino Lorber)
“The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain” (Gravitas Ventures)

Outstanding International Motion Picture
“7 Prisoners” (Netflix)*
“African America” (Netflix)
“Eyimofe (This is My Desire)” (Janus Films)
“Flee” (Neon / Participant)
“The Gravedigger’s Wife” (Orange Studio)

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in a Motion Picture
Ariana DeBose – “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)
Danny Boyd, Jr. – “Bruised” (Netflix)*
Jalon Christian – “A Journal for Jordan” (Columbia Pictures)
Lonnie Chavis – “The Water Man” (RLJE Films)
Sheila Atim – “Bruised” (Netflix)

Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture
“Coming 2 America” (Paramount Releasing/Amazon Studios)
“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
“King Richard” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
“Respect” (Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/United Artists Releasing)
“The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)*

Outstanding Animated Motion Picture
“Encanto” (Walt Disney Studios)*
“Luca” (Walt Disney Studios)
“Raya and the Last Dragon” (Walt Disney Studios)
“Sing 2” (Universal Pictures)
“Vivo” (Netflix)

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance – Motion Picture
Andre Braugher – “Spirit Untamed” (Universal Pictures)
Awkwafina – “Raya and the Last Dragon” (Walt Disney Studios)
Brian Tyree Henry – “Vivo” (Netflix)
Eric André – “Sing 2” (Universal Pictures)
Letitia Wright – “Sing 2” (Universal Pictures)*

Outstanding Short-Form (Live Action)
“Aurinko in Adagio” (Universal Pictures)
“Blackout” (Netflix)
“The Ice Cream Stop” (Walt Disney Studios)
“These Final Hours” (Universal Pictures)
“When The Sun Sets (Lakutshon’ Ilanga)” (Universal Pictures)*

Outstanding Short-Form (Animated)
“Blush” (Apple TV+)
“Robin Robin” (Netflix)
“She Dreams at Sunrise” (Tribeca Studios, Procter & Gamble)
“Twenty Something” (Pixar Animation Studios)
“Us Again” (Walt Disney Animation Studios)*

Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson – “Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” (Searchlight Pictures / Hulu)
Jamila Wignot – “Ailey” (Neon)
Jeymes Samuel – “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)*
Liesl Tommy – “Respect” (Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/United Artists Releasing)
Rebecca Hall – “Passing” (Netflix)

Outstanding Comedy Series
“black-ish” (ABC)
“Harlem” (Amazon Studios)
“Insecure” (HBO)*
“Run the World” (Starz)
“The Upshaws” (Netflix)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson – “black-ish” (ABC)*
Cedric the Entertainer – “The Neighborhood” (CBS)
Don Cheadle – “Black Monday” (Showtime)
Elisha ‘EJ’ Williams – “The Wonder Years” (ABC)
Jay Ellis – “Insecure” (HBO)

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series
Issa Rae – “Insecure” (HBO)*
Loretta Devine – “Family Reunion” (Netflix)
Regina Hall – “Black Monday” (Showtime)
Tracee Ellis Ross – “black-ish” (ABC)
Yvonne Orji – “Insecure” (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Andre Braugher – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC)
Deon Cole – “black-ish” (ABC)*
Kenan Thompson – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Kendrick Sampson – “Insecure” (HBO)
Laurence Fishburne – “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Amanda Seales – “Insecure” (HBO)
Jenifer Lewis – “black-ish” (ABC)
Marsai Martin – “black-ish” (ABC)
Natasha Rothwell – “Insecure” (HBO)*
Wanda Sykes – “The Upshaws” (Netflix)

Outstanding Drama Series
“9-1-1” (FOX)
“All American” (The CW)
“Godfather of Harlem” (EPIX)
“Pose” (FX Network)
“Queen Sugar” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)*

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
Billy Porter – “Pose” (FX Network)
Damson Idris – “Snowfall” (FX Network)
Forest Whitaker – “Godfather of Harlem” (EPIX)
Kofi Siriboe – “Queen Sugar” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
Sterling K. Brown – “This is Us” (NBC)*

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Angela Bassett – “9-1-1” (FOX)*
Dawn-Lyen Gardner – “Queen Sugar” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
Octavia Spencer – “Truth Be Told” (Apple TV+)
Queen Latifah – “The Equalizer” (CBS)
Rutina Wesley – “Queen Sugar” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Alex R. Hibbert – “The Chi” (Showtime)
Cliff “Method Man” Smith – “Power Book II: Ghost” (Starz)*
Daniel Ezra – “All American” (The CW)
Giancarlo Esposito – “Godfather of Harlem” (EPIX)
Joe Morton – “Our Kind of People” (FOX)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Alfre Woodard – “SEE” (Apple TV+)
Bianca Lawson – “Queen Sugar” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
Chandra Wilson – “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC)
Mary J. Blige – “Power Book II: Ghost” (Starz)*
Susan Kelechi Watson – “This is Us” (NBC)

Outstanding Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
“Colin in Black & White” – (Netflix)*
“Genius: Aretha” – (National Geographic)
“Love Life” – (HBO Max)
“Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia” – (Lifetime)
“The Underground Railroad” – (Amazon Studios)

Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
Anthony Mackie – “Solos” (Amazon Studios)
Jaden Michael – “Colin in Black & White” (Netflix)
Kevin Hart – “True Story” (Netflix)*
Wesley Snipes – “True Story” (Netflix)
William Jackson Harper – “Love Life” (HBO Max)

Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
Betty Gabriel – “Clickbait” (Netflix)
Cynthia Erivo – “Genius: Aretha” (National Geographic)
Danielle Brooks – “Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia” (Lifetime)
Jodie Turner-Smith – “Anne Boleyn” (AMC+)
Taraji P. Henson – “Annie Live!” (NBC)*

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
Courtney B. Vance – “Genius: Aretha” (National Geographic)*
Keith David – “Black as Night” (Amazon Studios)
Tituss Burgess – “Annie Live!” (NBC)
Will Catlett – “True Story” (Netflix)
William Jackson Harper – “The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Studios)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
Anika Noni Rose – “Maid” (Netflix)
Natasha Rothwell – “The White Lotus” (HBO)
Pauletta Washington – “Genius: Aretha” (National Geographic)
Regina Hall – “Nine Perfect Strangers” (Hulu)*
Sheila Atim – “The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Studios)

Outstanding News/Information (Series or Special)
“Blood on Black Wall Street: The Legacy of the Tulsa Massacre” (NBC)
“NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt” (NBC)
“Soul of a Nation” (ABC)
“The Reidout” (MSNBC)*
“Unsung” (TV One)

Outstanding Talk Series
“Desus & Mero” (Showtime)
“Hart to Heart” (Peacock)
“Red Table Talk” (Facebook Watch)*
“Tamron Hall” (Syndicated)
“The Real” (Syndicated)

Outstanding Reality Program, Reality Competition or Game Show (Series)
“Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC)
“Iyanla: Fix My Life” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
“Sweet Life: Los Angeles” (HBO Max)
“The Voice” (NBC)
“Wild ‘n Out” (VH1)*

Outstanding Variety Show (Series or Special)
“A Black Lady Sketch Show” (HBO)
“BET Awards 2021” (BET)
“Dave Chappelle: The Closer” (Netflix)
“Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3” (Amazon Studios)
“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)*

Outstanding Children’s Program
“Ada Twist, Scientist” (Netflix)
“Family Reunion” (Netflix)*

“Karma’s World” (Netflix)
“Raven’s Home” (Disney Channel)
“Waffles + Mochi” (Netflix)

Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited-Series)
Alayah “Lay Lay” High – “That Girl Lay Lay” (Nickelodeon)
Celina Smith – “Annie Live!” (NBC)
Elisha ‘EJ’ Williams – “The Wonder Years” (ABC)
Eris Baker – “This Is Us” (NBC)
Miles Brown – “black-ish” (ABC)*

Outstanding Host in a Talk or News/Information (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble
Joy Reid – “The Reidout” (MSNBC)
Daniel “Desus Nice” Baker, Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez – “Desus & Mero” (Showtime)
Garcelle Beauvais, Adrienne Houghton, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai Jenkins – “The Real” (Syndicated)
Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, Willow Smith – “Red Table Talk” (Facebook Watch)*
LeBron James – “The Shop: Uninterrupted” (HBO)

Outstanding Host in a Reality/Reality Competition, Game Show or Variety (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble
Alfonso Ribeiro – “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (ABC)
Amber Ruffin – “The Amber Ruffin Show” (Peacock)
Cedric the Entertainer – “73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards” (CBS)
Iyanla Vanzant – “Iyanla: Fix My Life” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
Trevor Noah – “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)*

Outstanding Guest Performance
Alani “La La” Anthony – “The Chi” (Showtime)
Christina Elmore – “Insecure” (HBO)
Daniel Kaluuya – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Erika Alexander – “Run the World” (Starz)
Maya Rudolph – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)*

Outstanding Animated Series
“Big Mouth” (Netflix)
“Peanut Headz: Black History Toonz” (Kweli TV)
“Super Sema” (YouTube Originals)
“We The People” (Netflix)*
“Yasuke” (Netflix)

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance (Television)
Angela Bassett – “Malika: The Lion Queen” (FOX)
Billy Porter – “Fairfax” (Amazon Studios)
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges – “Karma’s World” (Netflix)
Cree Summer – “Rugrats” (Nickelodeon)*
Keke Palmer – “Big Mouth” (Netflix)

Outstanding Short Form Series – Comedy or Drama
“Between the Scenes – The Daily Show” (Comedy Central)
“Dark Humor” (Comedy Central / YouTube)
“Della Mae (AspireTV)
“The Disney Launchpad: Shorts Incubator” (Disney+)
“Two Sides: Unfaithful” (Snapchat)

Outstanding Short Form Series or Special – Reality/Nonfiction
“Life By The Horns” (Snapchat)
“Memory Builds The Monument” (Fifth Ward CRC)
“Widen the Screen: 8:46 Films” (BET)
“Through Our Eyes: Shelter” (HBO Max)
“Lynching Postcards: Token of a Great Day” (Paramount+)*

Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Television)
Angel Kristi Williams – “Colin in Black & White” (Netflix)
Cierra Glaude – “Queen Sugar” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
Deborah Riley Draper – “The Legacy of Black Wall Street” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
Halcyon Person – “Karma’s World” (Netflix)
Quyen Tran – “Maid” (Netflix)

Outstanding New Artist
Cynthia Erivo – “Ch. 1 Vs. 1” (Verve Records / UMG Recordings)
Jimmie Allen – “Bettie James Gold Edition” (BBR Music Group)
Saweetie – “Best Friend featuring Doja Cat” (ICY / Warner Records)*
Tems – “If Orange Was A Place” (RCA Records / Since ’93)
Zoe Wees – “Girls Like Us” (Capitol Records)

Outstanding Male Artist
Anthony Hamilton – “Love Is The New Black” (My Music Box LLC / BMG)*
Drake – “Way 2 Sexy” (Republic Records)
Givēon – “Heartbreak Anniversary” (Epic Records)
J. Cole – “The Off-Season” (Dreamville / Roc Nation)
Lil Nas X – “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” (Columbia Records)

Outstanding Female Artist
H.E.R. – “Back of My Mind” (RCA Records / MBK Entertainment)
Ari Lennox – “Pressure” (Dreamville / Interscope Records)
Beyoncé – “Be Alive” (Columbia Records / Parkwood)
Chlöe – “Have Mercy” (Columbia Records / Parkwood)
Jazmine Sullivan – “Heaux Tales” (RCA Records)*

Outstanding Gospel/Christian Album
“Anthems & Glory” – Todd Dulaney (MNRK Music Group)
“Believe For It” – CeCe Winans (Pure Springs Gospel / Fair Trade Services / Red Alliance Media)
“Jonny x Mali: Live in L.A.” – Jonathan McReynolds and Mali Music (Life Room Label LLC / K Approved Enterprises. Inc.)
“Overcomer” – Tamela Mann (Tillymann Music Group)*
“Power” – Jason McGee & The Choir (My Block, Inc.)

Outstanding International Song
“Essence” – Wizkid featuring Tems and Justin Bieber (RCA Records / Starboy / Sony Music International)*
“Peru” – Fireboy DML (YBNL Nation / Empire)
“Somebody’s Son” – Tiwa Savage featuring Brandy (Motown)
“Touch It” – KiDi (Lynx Entertainment / MadeInENY / Empire)
“Understand” – Omah Lay (The KeyQaad / Sire Records)

Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album
“Best Friend” – Saweetie featuring Doja Cat (ICY / Warner Records)
“Essence” – Wizkid featuring Tems (RCA Records / Starboy / Sony Music International)*
“Fye Fye” – Tobe Nwigwe featuring Fat Nwigwe (Tobe Nwigwe, LLC)
“Have Mercy” – Chlöe (Columbia Records / Parkwood)
“Leave The Door Open” – Silk Sonic (Atlantic / Aftermath)

Outstanding Album
“An Evening With Silk Sonic” – Silk Sonic (Atlantic / Aftermath)
“Back of My Mind” – H.E.R. (RCA Records / MBK Entertainment)
“Certified Lover Boy” – Drake (Republic Records)
“Heaux Tales” – Jazmine Sullivan (RCA Records)*
“When It’s All Said and Done… Take Time” – Givēon (Epic Records)

Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album
“Coming 2 America (Amazon Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” – Eddie Murphy, Craig Brewer, Kevin Misher, Randy Spendlove, Jeff Harleston, Brittney Ramsdell (Def Jam Recordings)
“Judas and the Black Messiah (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” – Mark Isham and Craig Harris (WaterTower Music)
“Respect (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” – Jason Michael Webb and Stephen Bray (Epic Records)
“The Harder They Fall (The Motion Picture Soundtrack)” – JAY-Z and Jeymes Samuel (Geneva Club / Roc Nation Records, LLC)*
“The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Music from the Motion Picture)” – Salaam Remi, Andra Day, Raphael Saadiq, Warren “E” Felder, Downtown Trevor Brown (Warner Records)

Outstanding Gospel/Christian Song
“Believe For It” – CeCe Winans (Pure Springs Gospel / Fair Trade Services / Red Alliance Media)
“Help Me” – Tamela Mann featuring The Fellas (Tillymann Music Group)*
“Hold Us Together (Hope Mix)” – H.E.R. and Tauren Wells (RCA Records / Sony Music)
“Overcome 2021” – Kirk Franklin (Fo Yo Soul / RCA Records )
“Time for Reparations” – Sounds of Blackness (Sounds of Blackness / Atomic K Records)

Outstanding Jazz Album – Instrumental
“Forever…Jaz” – Jazmin Ghent (Independent Artist)
“Love Languages” – Nathan Mitchell (ENM Music Group)
“Somewhere Different” – Brandee Younger (Impulse! Records)
“Sounds from the Ancestors” – Kenny Garrett (Mack Avenue Music Group)*
“The Magic of Now” – Orrin Evans (Smoke Sessions Records)

Outstanding Jazz Album – Vocal
“Dear Love” – Jazzmeia Horn and Her Noble Force (Empress Legacy Records)
“Generations” – The Baylor Project (Be A Light)*
“Ledisi Sings Nina” – Ledisi (Listen Back Entertainment / BMG)
“Let There Be Love” – Freda Payne (Alain Franke Records)
“SALSWING!” – Rubén Blades y Roberto Delgado & Orquesta (Rubén Blades Productions)

Outstanding Soul/R&B Song
“Damage” – H.E.R. (RCA Records / MBK Entertainment)
“Be Alive” – Beyoncé (Columbia Records / Parkwood)
“Have Mercy” – Chlöe (Columbia Records / Parkwood)
“Leave The Door Open” – Silk Sonic (Atlantic / Aftermath)
“Pick Up Your Feelings” – Jazmine Sullivan (RCA Records)*

Outstanding Hip Hop/Rap Song
“Best Friend” – Saweetie featuring Doja Cat (ICY / Warner Records)
“Fye Fye” – Tobe Nwigwe featuring Fat Nwigwe (Tobe Nwigwe, LLC)*
“Industry Baby” – Lil Nas X featuring Jack Harlow (Columbia Records)
“My Life (with 21 Savage and Morray)” – J. Cole (Dreamville / Roc Nation)
“Way 2 Sexy” – Drake (Republic Records)

Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration (Traditional)
Anthony Hamilton featuring Jennifer Hudson – “Superstar” (My Music Box LLC / BMG)
Chlöe x Halle – “Georgia on My Mind” (Columbia Records / Parkwood)
Jazmine Sullivan featuring H.E.R. – “Girl Like Me” (RCA Records)
Leela James featuring Anthony Hamilton – “Complicated (Remix)” (SheSangz Music, Inc. / BMG)
Silk Sonic – “Leave the Door Open” (Atlantic / Aftermath)*

Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration (Contemporary)
Chris Brown featuring Young Thug, Future, Lil Durk and Latto – “Go Crazy (Remix)” (RCA Records)
Doja Cat featuring SZA – “Kiss Me More” (RCA Records / Kemosabe Records)
Drake featuring Future & Young Thug – “Way 2 Sexy” (Republic Records)
H.E.R. featuring Chris Brown – “Come Through” (RCA Records / MBK Entertainment)
Tobe Nwigwe featuring Fat Nwigwe – “Fye Fye” (Tobe Nwigwe, LLC)*

Outstanding Documentary (Film)
“Attica” (Showtime)
“Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power” (Greenwich Entertainment)*
“My Name Is Pauli Murray” (Amazon Studios)
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” (Searchlight Pictures / Hulu)
“Tina” (HBO Documentary Films)

Outstanding Documentary (Television)
“1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything” (Apple TV+)
“American Masters: How It Feels to Be Free” (PBS)
“Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali” (Netflix)
“High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America” (Netflix)*
“Insecure” Documentary (HBO)

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series
Ashley Nicole Black – “Ted Lasso” – “Do the Right-est Thing” (Apple TV+)
Issa Rae – “Insecure” -“Everything’s Gonna Be, Okay?!” (HBO)*
Leann Bowen – “Ted Lasso” – “Lavender” (Apple TV+)
Maya Erskine – “Pen15” – “Blue in Green” (Hulu)
Temi Wilkey – “Sex Education” – “Episode #3.6” (Netflix)

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series
Aurin Squire – “Evil” – “C Is For Cop” (Paramount+)
Davita Scarlett – “The Good Fight” – “And the Firm Had Two Partners…” (Paramount+)*
Malcolm Spellman – “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” – “New World Order” (Disney+)
Nkechi Okoro Carroll – “All American” – “Homecoming” (The CW)
Steven Canals, Janet Mock, Our Lady J, Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy – “Pose” – “Series Finale” (FX Network)

Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie or Special
Abdul Williams – “Salt-N-Pepa” (Lifetime Movie Network)*
Mario Miscione, Marcella Ochoa – “Madres” (Amazon Studios)
Monique N. Matthew – “A Holiday in Harlem” (Hallmark Channel)
Sameer Gardezi – “Hot Mess Holiday” (Comedy Central)
Sherman Payne – “Black as Night” (Amazon Studios)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture
Janicza Bravo, Jeremy O. Harris – “Zola” (A24)
Jeymes Samuel, Boaz Yakin – “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)
Shaka King, Will Berson, Kenny Lucas, Keith Lucas – “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros. Pictures)*
Virgil Williams – “A Journal for Jordan” (Columbia Pictures)
Win Rosenfeld, Nia DaCosta, Jordan Peele – “Candyman” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series
Bashir Salahuddin, Diallo Riddle – “South Side” – “Tornado” (HBO Max)*
Melina Matsoukas – “Insecure” – “Reunited, Okay?!” (HBO)
Neema Barnette – “Harlem – “Once Upon a Time in Harlem” (Amazon Studios)
Prentice Penny – “Insecure” – “Everything’s Gonna Be, Okay?!” (HBO)
Tiffany Johnson – “Black Monday” – “Eight!” (Showtime)

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series
Anthony Hemingway – “Genius: Aretha” – “Respect” (National Geographic)
Barry Jenkins – “The Underground Railroad” – “Indiana Winter” (Amazon Studios)*
Carl Seaton – “Snowfall” – “Fight or Flight” (FX Network)
Carl Seaton – “Godfather of Harlem” – “The Bonanno Split” (EPIX)
Hanelle Culpepper – “True Story” – “Like Cain Did Abel” (Netflix)

Outstanding Directing in a Television Movie or Special
Jaffar Mahmood – “Hot Mess Holiday” (Comedy Central)
Kenny Leon – “Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia” (Lifetime)*
Mario Van Peebles – “Salt-N-Pepa” (Lifetime)
Maritte Lee Go – “Black as Night” (Amazon Studios)
Veronica Rodriguez – “Let’s Get Merried” (VH1)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture
Denzel Washington – “A Journal for Jordan” (Columbia Pictures)
Jeymes Samuel – “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)
Lin-Manuel Miranda – “tick tick…BOOM!” (Netflix)
Reinaldo Marcus Green – “King Richard” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Shaka King – “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros. Pictures)*

Outstanding Directing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture)
Andre Gaines – “The One and Only Dick Gregory” (Showtime)
Dawn Porter – “Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer” (National Geographic)
Sam Pollard – “MLK/FBI” (IFC Films)
Samantha Knowles, Yoruba Richen, Geeta Gandbhir, Nadia Hallgren – “Black and Missing” (HBO)*
Spike Lee – “NYC Epicenters 9/11➔2021½” (HBO Max)

Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction
“Harlem Shuffle” – Colson Whitehead (Penguin Random House)
“Libertie” – Kaitlyn Greenidge (Algonquin Books)
“Long Division” – Kiese Laymon (Simon & Schuster)*
“The Man Who Lived Underground” – Richard Wright (Library of America)
“The Perishing” – Natashia Deón (Counterpoint Press)

Outstanding Literary Work – Nonfiction
“Dance Theatre of Harlem” – Judy Tyrus, Paul Novosel (Kensington)
“Just As I Am” – Cicely Tyson (Amistad)*
“My Remarkable Journey” – Katherine Johnson (Amistad)
“Renegades: Born in the USA” – Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen (Penguin Random House)
“The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” – Nikole Hannah-Jones (Penguin Random House)*

Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author
“Just As I Am” – Cicely Tyson (Amistad)*
“My Remarkable Journey” – Katherine Johnson (Amistad)
“Other Black Girl: A Novel” – Zakiya Dalila Harris (Simon & Schuster)
“The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” – Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (HarperCollins Publishers)
“Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts” – Rebecca Hall (Simon & Schuster)

Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Autobiography
“Just As I Am” – Cicely Tyson (Amistad)
“Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement” – Tarana Burke (Macmillan / Flatiron Books)
“Unprotected: A Memoir” – Billy Porter (Abrams Press)
“Until I Am Free” – Keisha Blain (Beacon Press)
“Will” – Will Smith (Penguin Random House)*

Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional
“Diversity Is Not Enough: A Roadmap to Recruit, Develop and Promote Black Leaders in America” – Keith Wyche (Kandelle Publishing)
“Feeding the Soul (Because It’s My Business)” – Tabitha Brown (HarperCollins Publishers)*
“Permission to Dream” – Chris Gardner (Amistad)
“Teaching Black History to White People” – Leonard N. Moore (University of Texas Press)
“The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth About Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations” – Robert Livingston (Penguin Random House)

Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry
“Perfect Black” – Crystal Wilkinson (University Press of Kentucky)*
“Playlist for the Apocalypse” – Rita Dove (W. W. Norton & Company)
“Such Color: New and Selected Poems” – Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press)
“The Wild Fox of Yemen” – Threa Almontaser (Graywolf Press)
“What Water Knows: Poems” – Jacqueline Jones LaMon (Northwestern University Press)

Outstanding Literary Work – Children
“Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy” – Misty Copeland (Aladdin)
“Change Sings” – Amanda Gorman, Loren Long (Penguin Young Readers)
“Stacey’s Extraordinary Words” – Stacey Abrams, Kitt Thomas (HarperCollins)*
“Time for Bed, Old House” – Janet Costa Bates, A.G. Ford (Candlewick Press)
“When Langston Dances” – Kaija Langley, Keith Mallett (S&S Books for Young Readers)

Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens
“Ace of Spades” – Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan)*
“Happily Ever Afters” – Elise Bryant (HarperCollins)
“The Cost of Knowing” – Brittney Morris (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers)
“When You Look Like Us” – Pamela N. Harris (HarperCollins)
“Wings of Ebony” – J. Elle (S&S Books for Young Readers)

Outstanding News and Information Podcast
“After the Uprising: The Death of Danyé Dion Jones”
“Blindspot: Tulsa Burning”*
“Into America”

Outstanding Lifestyle/Self-Help Podcast
“Checking In With Michelle Williams”
“The Homecoming Podcast With Dr. Thema”
“The SonRise Project Podcast”
“Two Funny Mamas: Sherri Shepherd & Kym Whitley”*
“Under Construction w/ Tamar Braxton”

Outstanding Society and Culture Podcast
“Beyond the Scenes – The Daily Show”
“Jemele Hill Is Unbothered”*
“Professional Troublemaker”
“Questlove Supreme”
“Super Soul Podcast”

Outstanding Arts and Entertainment Podcast
“Club Shay Shay Podcast With Shannon Sharpe”
“Jemele Hill Is Unbothered”*
“Questlove Supreme”
“Reasonably Shady”
“The History of Sketch Comedy With Keegan-Michael Key”

Social Media Personality of the Year Nominees
@Euniquejg – Eunique Jones GIbson
@KevOnStage – Kevin Fredericks
@Laronhinesofficial – Laron Hines*
@_Lyneezy – Lanae Vanee
@Terrellgrice – Terrell Grice

2021 CMA Awards: Chris Stapleton, Luke Combs win big

November 10, 2021

by Carla Hay

With four prizes, Chris Stapleton was the biggest winner at the 55th Annual CMA Awards, which were presented at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on November 10, 2021. ABC had the U.S. telecast of the ceremony, which was hosted by Luke Bryan. Stapleton received the awards for Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year, Single of the Year and Song of the Year—all for “Starting Over.”

Other winners were Luke Combs (who was named Entertainer of the Year) and Kelsea Ballerini, who won two prizes for “Half of My Hometown” (featuring Kenny Chesney): Musical Event of the Year and Music Video of the Year.

Other winners of the 2021 CMA Awards included Old Dominion (Vocal Group of the Year); Brothers Osborne (Vocal Duo of the Year); Carly Pearce (Female Vocalist of the Year); and Jimmie Allen (New Artist of the Year). Eric Church, who was tied with Stapleton with the most nominations (five) going into the ceremony, ended up winning no CMA Awards this year.

Performers at the ceremony included Bryan, Stapleton, Church, Combs, Allen, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Gabby Barrett, Brothers Osborne, Dan + Shay, Jennifer Hudson, Miranda Lambert, Old Dominion, Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Chris Young, Kane Brown and Zac Brown Band. All-star team-ups included Mickey Guyton featuring Brittney Spencer and Madeline Edwards, as well as Dierks Bentley featuring Breland and Hardy.

Presenters included Trace Adkins, Ingrid Andress, Ballerini, Deana Carter, Lauren Daigle, Russell Dickerson, Faith Fennidy, Florida Georgia Line, Freddie Freeman, Amy Grant, Dulé Hill, Alan Jackson, Elle King, Lady A, Zachary Levi, Scotty McCreery, Hayley Orrantia, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Darius Rucker, Susan Sarandon, Saycon Sengbloh, Kurt Warner, Lainey Wilson and Trisha Yearwood.

The 55th Annual CMA Awards ceremony was a production of the Country Music Association. Robert Deaton was the executive producer. Alan Carter was the director, and David Wild was the head writer.  

The following is a complete list of winners and nominees for the 2021 CMA Awards:



  • Eric Church
  • Luke Combs*
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Carrie Underwood

Award goes to Artist(s), Producer(s) and Mix Engineer(s)

  • “Famous Friends” – Chris Young with Kane Brown
    Producers: Corey Crowder, Chris Young
    Mix Engineer: Sean Moffitt
  • “The Good Ones” – Gabby Barrett
    Producers: Ross Copperman, Zach Kale
    Mix Engineers: Chris Galland, Manny Marroquin
  • “Hell Of A View” – Eric Church
    Producer: Jay Joyce
    Mix Engineers: Jason Hall, Jay Joyce
  • “One Night Standards” – Ashley McBryde
    Producer: Jay Joyce
    Mix Engineers: Jason Hall, Jay Joyce
  • “Starting Over” – Chris Stapleton*
    Producers: Dave Cobb, Chris Stapleton
    Mix Engineer: Vance Powell

Award goes to Artist(s), Producer(s) and Mix Engineer(s)

  • 29 – Carly Pearce
    Producers: Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Jimmy RobbinsMix Engineer: Ryan Gore
  • Dangerous: The Double Album – Morgan Wallen
    Producers: Dave Cohen, Matt Dragstrem, Jacob Durrett, Charlie Handsome and Joey MoiMix Engineer: Joey Moi
  • Heart – Eric Church
    Producer: Jay JoyceMix Engineers: Jason Hall, Jay Joyce
  • Skeletons – Brothers Osborne
    Producer: Jay JoyceMix Engineers: Jason Hall, Jay Joyce
  • Starting Over – Chris Stapleton*
    Producers: Dave Cobb, Chris StapletonMix Engineer: Vance Powell

Award goes to Songwriter(s) 

  • “Forever After All”
    Songwriters: Luke Combs, Drew Parker, Robert Williford
  • “The Good Ones”
    Songwriters: Gabby Barrett, Zach Kale, Emily Landis, Jim McCormick
  • “Hell Of A View”
    Songwriters: Casey Beathard, Eric Church, Monty Criswell
  • “One Night Standards”
    Songwriters: Nicolette Hayford, Shane McAnally, Ashley McBryde
  • “Starting Over”*
    Songwriters: Mike Henderson, Chris Stapleton


  • Gabby Barrett
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Ashley McBryde
  • Maren Morris
  • Carly Pearce*


  • Dierks Bentley
  • Eric Church
  • Luke Combs
  • Thomas Rhett
  • Chris Stapleton*


  • Lady A
  • Little Big Town
  • Midland
  • Old Dominion*
  • Zac Brown Band


  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Brothers Osborne*
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Maddie & Tae

Award goes to Artist(s) and Producer(s) 

  • “Buy Dirt” – Jordan Davis and Luke Bryan
    Producer: Paul DiGiovanni
  • “Chasing After You” – Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris
    Producers: Aaron Eshuis, Teddy Reimer
  • “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” – Elle King & Miranda Lambert
    Producer: Martin Johnson
  • “Famous Friends” – Chris Young with Kane Brown
    Producers: Corey Crowder, Chris Young
  • “Half of My Hometown” – Kelsea Ballerini (featuring Kenny Chesney)*
    Producers: Kelsea Ballerini, Ross Copperman, Jimmy Robbins


  • Jenee Fleenor, Fiddle*
  • Paul Franklin, Steel Guitar
  • Aaron Sterling, Drums
  • Ilya Toshinskiy, Banjo
  • Derek Wells, Guitar

Award goes to Artist(s) and Director(s) 

  • “Chasing After You” – Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris
    Director: TK McKamy
  • “Famous Friends” – Chris Young with Kane Brown
    Director: Peter Zavadil
  • “Gone” – Dierks Bentley
    Directors: Wes Edwards, Travis Nicholson, Ed Pryor, Running Bear, Sam Siske
  • “Half of My Hometown” – Kelsea Ballerini (featuring Kenny Chesney)*
    Director: Patrick Tracy
  • “Younger Me” – Brothers Osborne
    Director: Reid Long


  • Jimmie Allen*
  • Ingrid Andress
  • Gabby Barrett
  • Mickey Guyton

The presentations of the following CMA Awards were not televised:



Weekly National

  • “American Country Countdown” (Kix Brooks) – Westwood One
  • “Country Countdown USA” (Lon Helton) – Westwood One*
  • “Country Gold” (Terri Clark) – Westwood One
  • “The Crook & Chase Countdown” (Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase) – iHeartMedia
  • “Honky Tonkin’ with Tracy Lawrence” (Tracy Lawrence and Patrick Thomas) – Compass Media Networks

Daily National

  • “The Big D and Bubba Show” (Derek Haskins, Sean Powell, Patrick Thomas and Carsen Humphreville) – Compass Media Networks
  • “The Bobby Bones Show” (Bobby Bones, Amy Brown, “Lunchbox” Dan Chappell, Eddie Garcia, “Morgan #2” Huelsman, “Raymundo” Ray Slater, “Scuba Steve” Stephen Spradlin, “Mike D” Rodriguez and “Utility Hillary” Borden) – Premiere Networks
  • “CMT After Midnite” (Cody Alan) – Premiere Networks*
  • “The Lia Show” (Lia Knight) – Westwood One
  • “The Music Row Happy Hour” (Buzz Brainard and Ania Hammar) – Sirius XM Satellite Radio

Major Market

  • “Angie Ward” – WUBL, Atlanta, Ga.
  • “Double-L” (Lois Lewis) – KNIX, Phoenix, Ariz.*
  • “Hawkeye in the Morning with Hawkeye and Michelle” (“Hawkeye” Mark Louis Rybczyk and Michelle Rodriguez) – KSCS, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas
  • “The Morning Bull: George, Mo & Cowboy Dave” (George Lindsey, “Mo” Monica Lunsford and “Cowboy Dave” Bayless) – KILT, Houston, Texas
  • “Tampa Bay’s Morning Krewe with J.R., Launa and Kevin” (“J.R.” Jon Jaus, Launa Phillips and Kevin Ebel) – WQYK, Tampa Bay, Fla.

Large Market

  • “Jesse Tack” – WUBE, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • “Jim, Deb & Kevin” (Jim Denny, Deborah Honeycutt and Kevin Freeman) – WFMS, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • “Lexi & Banks” (“Lexi” Elena Abatgis and “Banks” Jared Danielson) – KUBL, Salt Lake City-Ogden-Provo, Utah
  • “Ridder, Scott and Shannen” (“Ridder” Shaun Ridderbush, Scott Dolphin, and Shannen Oesterreich) – WMIL, Milwaukee-Racine, Wis.*
  • “The Wayne D Show” (“Wayne D” Danielson and Taylor Rosenberg) – WSIX, Nashville, Tenn.

Medium Market

  • “Brent Michaels” – KUZZ, Bakersfield, Calif.
  • “Ellis and Bradley Show” (Bill Ellis and Beth Bradley) – WSSL, Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.
  • “Julie and DJ in the Morning” (“Julie K” Kansy and “D.J. Thee Trucker” Dale Sellers) – WPCV, Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.
  • “Mo & StyckMan” (“Mo” Melissa Wagner and “StyckMan” Greg Owens) – WUSY, Chattanooga, Tenn.*
  • “Steve & Gina In The Morning” (Steve Lundy and Gina Melton) – KXKT, Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa

Small Market

  • “Barrett, Fox & Berry” (Bill Barrett, Tim Fox and Tracy Berry) – KKNU, Eugene-Springfield, Ore.
  • “Dr. Shane and Tess in the Morning” (Shane Collins and Tess Connell) – WPAP, Panama City, Fla.
  • “KTTS Morning Show with Nancy & Rick” (Nancy Simpson and Rick Moore) – KTTS, Springfield, Mo.
  • “Liz & Scotty in the Morning” (Liz Del Grosso and Scotty Cox) – KCLR, Columbia, Mo.
  • “Steve, Ben and Nikki” (Steve Stroud, Ben Walker and Nikki Thomas) – WXBQ, Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, Tenn.-Va.*


Major Market

  • KNIX – Phoenix, Ariz.
  • KNUC – Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.
  • KYGO – Denver-Boulder, Colo.*
  • WNSH – New York City, N.Y.
  • WXTU – Philadelphia, Pa.
  • WYCD – Detroit, Mich.

Large Market

  • WFMS – Indianapolis, Ind.
  • WMIL – Milwaukee-Racine, Wis.
  • WQDR – Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
  • WSIX – Nashville, Tenn.
  • WUBE – Cincinnati, Ohio*

Medium Market

  • KATM – Modesto, Calif.
  • KXKT – Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa
  • KUZZ – Bakersfield, Calif.*
  • WQMX – Akron, Ohio
  • WXCY – Wilmington, Del.

Small Market

  • KCLR – Columbia, Mo.*
  • KTTS – Springfield, Mo.
  • WBYT – South Bend, Ind.
  • WXBQ – Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, Tenn.-Va.
  • WXFL – Florence-Muscle Shoals, Ala.
  • WYCT – Pensacola, Fla.

Review: ‘Respect’ (2021), starring Jennifer Hudson

August 8, 2021

by Carla Hay

Marc Maron, Marlon Wayans and Jennifer Hudson in “Respect” (Photo by Quantrell D. Colbert/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)


Directed by Liesl Tommy

Culture Representation: Taking place from the 1950s to 1970s, in various cities in the U.S. and Europe, the dramatic film “Respect” about music legend Aretha Franklin features a predominantly African American cast of characters (with some white people) portraying people who were connected to Franklin in some way.

Culture Clash: Franklin soared to the greatest heights in show business, but her personal life was troubled with alcoholism, abusive relationships, and being haunted by childhood traumas. 

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of Aretha Franklin fans, “Respect” will appeal primarily to people interested in formulaic celebrity biopics and don’t mind if the pacing and story are disappointingly uneven.

Skye Dakota Turner and Audra McDonald in “Respect” (Photo by Quantrell D. Colbert/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

It’s indisputable that Aretha Franklin is one of the greatest music legends of all time. She won every possible major award for singing. She influenced millions of people and had numerous iconic hits. She was celebrated for other areas of her life, such as her civil rights activism and charitable work. And she rightfully holds the title of Queen of Soul. Franklin (who was 76 when she died of pancreatic cancer in 2018) deserves a biopic that does justice to her extraordinary life. Unfortunately, the woefully muddled “Respect” is not that movie.

Simply put: In this movie, the music soars, while the drama often bores. At 144 minutes long, “Respect” is an uneven biopic that makes a number of baffling and terrible choices in how to present Franklin’s life. “Respect” is the feature-film directorial debut of Liesl Tommy, who has extensive directorial experience on Broadway and in television. Tracey Scott Wilson, who’s been a playwright and a TV writer, also makes her feature-film debut as a screenwriter in “Respect.” Their lack of feature-film experience might have hurt the movie.

“Respect” has the benefit of a very talented cast, including two cast members (Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker) who have won Oscars for their acting. Hudson, who portrays Aretha Franklin in the movie, is an excellent, Grammy-winning singer in her own right. She has standout moments in “Respect” when she sings Franklin’s songs with a fiery passion that’s admirable. But it’s hard to go wrong with the movie’s musical numbers when an outstanding singer like Hudson gets to belt out Aretha Franklin classics that Hudson was singing years before she got cast in this movie.

Where the movie stumbles is how it drags down too many scenes with sluggish pacing, mediocre acting and uninspired dialogue. In addition, “Respect” is often tone-deaf and borderline irresponsible when it comes to depicting racial inequalities and racism in a movie that mostly takes place in the U.S. during the era of legal racial segregation and the civil rights movement that helped make this segregation illegal. It’s as if this movie was made by people who want to forget the racism experienced by Aretha Franklin and other black people in America, and would rather have scene after scene of Aretha Franklin getting abused by her African American husband.

One of the biggest mistakes is that the movie—which is mostly told in chronological order from the 1950s to 1970s (with some flashbacks)—spends the first 20 to 25 minutes focusing only on Aretha as a pre-teen, beginning in 1952 when she was 10 years old. As important as it is to depict Franklin’s childhood, it didn’t need to take up this much screen time in a feature-length movie. This lapse in judgment in spending too much time on Aretha’s childhood seems to be because the filmmakers wanted to showcase the impressive singing talent of Skye Dakota Turner, who is fantasic in her role as a young Aretha.

However, the childhood scenes are very repetitive in showing that Aretha as a child was trotted out like a show pony by her domineering minister father, Rev. Clarence LaVaughn “C.L.” Franklin (played by Whitaker), to sing for audiences whenever he told her to sing. The audiences could be in places as varied as a church, a nightclub or a house party. C.L. knew early in Aretha’s childhood that Aretha was going to be a star, and he was going to do everything possible to make it happen.

The movie also shows how Aretha was affected by her parents’ separation when she was a child. By the time the movie begins in 1952, the couple had been separated for four years. Her mother Barbara (played by Audra McDonald) moved out of the family home, which can be intepreted as either abandonment or as a woman who didn’t have the money and resources to fight for child custody against a more powerful spouse.

Aretha’s father had custody of Aretha and her siblings from this marriage. These siblings included older sister Erma, older brother Cecil and younger sister Carolyn. The actors portraying these siblings are Kennedy Chanel as young Erma, Saycon Sengbloh as adult Erma, Peyton Jackson as young Cecil, LeRoy McClain as adult Cecil, Nevaeh Moore as young Carolyn and Hailey Kilgore as adult Carolyn.

C.L.’s mother (played by Kimberly Scott), who has the name Mama Franklin in the movie’s credits, helps raise the children. She is a kind and loving authority figure in the children’s lives, but not as warm and welcoming to the kids’ mother. Barbara is a mysterious and intermittent presence who’s treated like a pariah by C.L. and his mother. There’s a lot of tension when Barbara comes to visit the children.

The reason for the breakdown in the marriage is stated only as C.L. spending too much time away from home as a traveling minister. His alleged infidelities are not mentioned in the film, nor is it mentioned that he fathered a daughter named Carl Ellan (born in 1940) with a 12-year-old girl from his congregation named Mildred Jennings. (It’s a widely reported story that has not been disputed by the Franklin family.)

It is mentioned during an argument scene that C.L. abandoned his first wife and family and then moved on to Barbara, who was his second wife. Barbara and C.L. were never legally divorced. While still legally married but separated from Barbara, C.L. began an on-again/off-again relationship in 1949, with a gospel singer named Clara Ward (played by Heather Headley), who was his longtime companion until her death in 1973. Although she and C.L. were never married, they were known as the reigning couple of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where C.L. was a very influential member of the community.

Even though C.L. was the more dominant parent in Aretha’s life, the movie shows that her mother Barbara had a huge influence on Aretha as a singer and as a musician. The movie depicts this mother and daughter spending happy times singing together, often while Barbara played the piano. Aretha also became a skilled pianist.

Tragically, Barbara died of a heart attack at the age of 34 in 1952. The movie shows how Aretha was devastated by her mother’s death, but the movie doesn’t mention how Barbara died. When C.L. reluctantly tells Aretha the news about Barbara’s passing, Aretha doesn’t even ask what caused her mother’s death. It’s an example of how this movie sloppily leaves out realistic details and how it treats some of Aretha’s family members more like plot devices than real human beings.

Aside from having a messy and fractured family life, Aretha was also profoundly affected by childhood sexual abuse. It’s depicted in a non-explicit way in the movie as Aretha, at 10 or 11 years old, being the victim of statutory rape by a guy in his late teens or early 20s who was a guest in the Franklin home during a house party. Later, there’s a brief flashback to Aretha as a 12-year-old, pregnant with her first child: a boy named Clarence (named after her father), who was born in 1955.

For years, Aretha refused to publicly say who was the father of her son Clarence. In 1957, she gave birth out of wedlock to a second son named Edward, whose father was Edward Jordan. According to several reports, Aretha wrote in her will that Jordan was also the father of Clarence.

She went on to have two more sons: Ted White Jr. (born in 1964, from her first marriage to her manager Ted White), and Kecalf Cunningham (born in 1970, from a relationship she had with her tour manager Ken Cunningham). In the movie, Joel Xavier Alston and William J. Simmons portray Clarence; Christopher Daniel and Chase Burgess portray Edward; and Malaki Sample portrays Ted White Jr.

Aretha was a high-profile supporter of the U.S civil rights movement, and the movie correctly shows that she and her father C.L. were allies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (played by Gilbert Glenn Brown), the civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968. However, the movie makes it look like Aretha never experienced racism from white people. It’s really insulting to viewers’ intelligence that the filmmakers of “Respect” make a big deal out of Aretha’s support of the civil rights movement and yet refused to show why the civil rights movement existed in the first place.

Aretha was born in Memphis and grew up in Detroit. She spent years touring in the U.S. during the ugly period in American history when racial segregation was legal. Black people and other people of color who traveled in certain parts of the U.S. experienced human rights violations, especially in places where people were segregated by race. Anyone who wasn’t white in a “white only” area could be subjected to hateful abuse or worse. And yet, the movie completely erases these racist experiences from her life.

It wouldn’t have been so hard to have something as simple as a scene of Aretha traveling somewhere while on tour and seeing signs that said “White Only” or “Colored Only,” which were prevalent in these racially segregated areas. It’s grossly inaccurate for any movie about an African American entertainer who toured the U.S. during the segregation era to not show this despicable part of American history. And the fact that “Respect” was written and directed by black women makes it even more mind-boggling that they would leave out this truthful part of Aretha’s life. Aretha might have been a superstar, but she still experienced racism, just like any black person in America.

In fact, the movie makes it look like all the white people whom Aretha ever encountered in her life went out of their way to be nice to her. And that might have been true on a business level when she had some type of fame and people were making money off of her, but not in her everyday life as an African American female, especially before she became famous. A large part of this movie is about before Aretha was a celebrity. That doesn’t mean this movie had to make all white people she encountered look like racists, because that would be inaccurate. But it’s also very wrong and insulting to the civil rights movement to depict Aretha Franklin’s life as being some kind of concocted fantasy where she was immune to racism.

The biggest racist and the biggest villain in the movie is Aretha’s first husband Ted White (played by Marlon Wayans), whom she married in 1961, at age 18, and who became her manager right around the time that she signed her first record deal. He is written as the worst possible stereotype of an angry black man. He’s abusive, violent and misogynistic. In case it isn’t clear that Ted is also a racist, he frequently spews derogatory racist names for white people and black people whenever he wants to feel important.

Ted flies into a rage when he sees other men, especially white men, admiring Aretha. There’s a scene in a hotel room where Ted verbally and physically attacks one of Aretha’s recording session musicians (a white man), who tries to talk Ted out of canceling a recording session that is going well. Ted wants to cut short the recording session, all because Ted didn’t like the way one of the musicians was touching Aretha.

Of course, you don’t have to be a psychiatrist to see (because the movie shows it) that Aretha’s attraction to Ted was partly to due to rebelling against her father (who greatly disapproved of Ted) and partly because she wanted a husband who was controlling like her father. Like many abusive partners, Ted has a charming side that he uses to keep his partner hooked on the relationship. Aretha is depicted as someone who was very insecure with low self-esteem, except when it came to showing her talent.

Although not as toxic as Ted, Aretha’s father C.L. is also portrayed as having an unhealthy relationship with Aretha. For example, in a scene where Aretha was a Columbia Records artist, she tells C.L. that she doesn’t have hit songs because “you don’t make good songs for me.” In response, C.L. slaps her in the face. The movie is filled with hokey lines, such as when Aretha’s father C.L. says to her when she fires him as her manager and replaces him with Ted: “You’re going to beg to take me back, but I won’t!”

Whitaker isn’t in the movie as much as Wayans, but both C.L. and Ted are depicted as two-dimensional control freaks. Ted manipulates Aretha to stay with him, by saying that they both have personal demons and only she can help him control his demons. It’s made very clear throughout the story, because the movie shows viewers through flashbacks, that Aretha’s alcoholism and her relationship problems are the result of her dysfunctional childhood and her trauma from sexual abuse.

The movie accurately shows that Aretha wasn’t an overnight sensation. During the early years of her career, when Aretha was signed to Columbia Records, she had trouble finding her identity as a singer. She sang mostly R&B music, but she couldn’t get any mainstream crossover hits from any of the albums that she released on Columbia. Columbia Records chief John Hammond (played by Tate Donovan) is depicted as friendly but not very attuned to Aretha on an artistic level.

In addition to her mother’s musical influence, Aretha had early musical guidance from Reverend Dr. James Cleveland (played by Tituss Burgess), who has a small role in the film, mostly playing the piano while Aretha sings. It’s such a small role that many viewers who don’t know Aretha’s history might forget that this character is in the movie. The character is written so generically that it’s a waste of Burgess’ talent.

Mary J. Blige has a brief supporting role as singer Dinah Washington, a friend and inspiration to a young Aretha. In one of the movie’s several melodramatic scenes, Aretha as a young adult in 1963 (before she was famous) is singing at New York City’s Villlage Vanguard nightclub, where Dinah is in the audience. Just as Aretha begins singing one of Dinah’s songs as a tribute, Dinah loses her temper and flips over the table where Dinah is sitting.

Dinah yells at Aretha in front of the crowd: “Bitch! Don’t you ever sing the queen’s songs when the queen is in front of you!” It’s the kind of scene that you might see in a Tyler Perry movie. Later, in the dressing room, Dinah has calmed down, and she offers this advice to Aretha: “Find the songs that suit you. Until you do that, you ain’t going nowhere.”

Aretha’s career vastly improved after she signed to Atlantic Records in 1966. Under the musical mentorship of Atlantic Records co-founder Jerry Wexler (played by Marc Maron), she found the songs that suited her. These hits included “Respect” (a cover version of an Otis Redding song), “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Think,” all of which Hudson performs in the movie.

And for the first time in her career, Aretha’s session musicians were all white, which initially didn’t sit well at all with her racist husband/manager Ted. There are mutliple scenes where Ted and Jerry clash over the race of Aretha’s backup musicians. Ted wanted to stick with the black musicians Aretha had been working with for quite some time, while Jerry says these musicians are inferior to the white musicians whom Jerry wanted to have for Aretha’s backup band.

However, Ted couldn’t argue with the success that came when Aretha started getting big hits and became a major star. They moved to New York City and led a celebrity lifestyle that hid from the public a lot of abuse that Ted inflicted on her behind the scenes. The movie shows that after Ted brutally assaulted Aretha during a vicious fight, she left him to go back to her family in Detroit on at least one occasion. But he sweet-talked his way back into her life and took a lot of credit for her success. The couple eventually divorced in 1969.

Jerry Wexler is portrayed as a shrewd wheeler dealer who was skilled with artists not just on an artistic level but also on a business level. He’s credited with bringing Aretha to FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in 1967, to record one of her most well-known songs: “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” the title track of her album released that year.

For a movie about this music legend, there’s the expected number of hits, but they’re presented in a very superficial, jukebox style. One minute, Aretha is at home singing along with some family members to Redding’s “Respect” and saying how she wanted to record a version of the song, even though Ted and some other people were skeptical. The next minute, she’s recorded the song, and it’s a big hit.

There is some screen time (but not enough) showing how Aretha crafted the songs in the recording studio. Most of her hits were written by other songwriters, but she played piano and helped arrange many of her song melodies. The movie gives most of the credit for Aretha’s transformation in the recording studio to Jerry and the white musicians he hired to be her backup band. Jerry and these musicians are depicted as showing Aretha a different way of approaching music than what she was previously doing in a recording studio.

Aretha had the talent all along, but the movie has somewhat of a “white savior” narrative that Jerry and these musicians took her career to hitmaking levels. Eventually, she had a racially integrated band, but the movie presents any of her male co-workers as perceived problems for bullying Ted, who was paranoid that other men would try to seduce Aretha or try to undermine Ted’s control over her. Meanwhile, the movie shows that Ted was cheating on Aretha.

“Think” was one of the hits that Aretha wrote, but the behind-the-scenes story about the song is reduced to it being inspired by her abusive relationship with Ted, who got a co-songwriting credit. Later in the movie, when they have an argument, Aretha expresses regret about giving him that songwriting credit because she says he hardly worked on the song. Overall, the movie does a disservice in telling the stories behind Aretha’s biggest hits.

The story behind “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”—written by Carole King, Gerry Goffin and Wexler—is left completely out of the movie, even though the song is unquestionably one of Aretha’s greatest anthems. The closest that the movie comes to acknowledging who wrote “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” is during the end credits: There’s a clip showing the real Aretha performing the song during the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, where Carole King was an honoree and rapturously reacting in the audience. It just serves as a reminder that no scripted project with actors can truly capture the musical genius of the real Aretha.

“Aint No Way,” written by Aretha’s younger sister Carolyn, is performed in the movie, which leaves out the story behind that song too. Carolyn was an “out of the closet” lesbian to her friends and family, and the song was about the secret love she had for another woman. The “Respect” movie does not discuss the personal lives of Carolyn and Erma, who were longtime backup singers for Aretha. And their personal lives didn’t have to be in this movie, but the movie erases a lot of the LGBTQ presence in Aretha’s life.

According to author David Ritz’s comprehensive 2014 biography “Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin,” gay and lesbian couples and hookups were very common among the performers and employees of the gospel tours that Aretha did in her youth, and they were among her earliest exposures to LGBTQ people. The closest that the movie comes to acknowledging the LGBTQ community that was part of Aretha’s life is during the movie’s 1952 opening scene at a Franklin house party, where two men are very briefly seen flirting with each other and giving each other an amorous embrace.

It’s as if the “Respect” filmmakers went so far out of their way to erase certain truthful aspects of Aretha’s life, in order to not to offend certain people who want to pretend that these facts of her life did not exist. Instead, the “African American diva with the abusive husband” narrative is one they obviously felt comfortable pounding into the story repeatedly. Aretha Franklin was married to Ted White for only eight years. She experienced racism for a lot longer than that, but you’d never know it by what the filmmakers chose to put or not put in this movie.

After Aretha and Ted broke up, Aretha’s older brother Cecil eventually took over her business affairs, but that’s barely acknowledged in the movie. Her siblings are just treated as side characters who are there to serve Aretha or get yelled at when Aretha is angry and/or drunk. More than once in the film, Aretha accuses her sisters of being jealous that she’s a more successful singer than they are. If you’re looking for any insightful Franklin family scenes in this movie, forget it. Her biological family members are shamelessly and unfairly written as supporting characters in a soap opera.

Aretha’s affair with her tour manager Ken Cunningham (played by Albert Jones) is portrayed as partly getting revenge on Ted for his infidelities and partly because Aretha turned to Ken out of loneliness. Unlike Ted, Ken is portrayed as a good guy. However, Ken got involved with Aretha during the worst of her alcoholism, so the relationship was doomed, even though the movie rushes in an “Aretha gets sober” redemption arc toward the end. The movie doesn’t show Aretha and Ken’s breakup, because the film ends in 1972, when Aretha recorded her “Amazing Grace” live gospel album, which remains the best-selling album of her career. (“Respect” also mentions the “Amazing Grace” documentary film that was made about recording this album.)

Hudson’s portrayal of Aretha is not horrible, but it’s far from an award-worthy performance. She excels during the musical numbers, but her dramatic scenes with some of the actors (especially with Wayans) are often mired in stilted, awkward pauses. Hudson sometimes has the real Aretha’s vocal cadence when she speaks, but other times she drops it and talks like Jennifer Hudson.

The scenes about Ted’s jealousy and abusiveness wallow in tacky melodrama. There’s a scene at an Aretha concert where Ted gets angry backstage when he sees that some of Aretha’s overzealous fans are trying to climb on stage. Instead of letting the professional security team handle it, Ted storms out on stage in the middle of the performance and acts like he’s about to body slam anyone who gets close to Aretha. And when Ted sees the way Aretha and Ken look at each other when they first meet, he’s ready to pick a fight with Ken.

One of the worst scenes in the movie is when a drunk Aretha falls off of the stage during a 1967 concert in Columbus, Georgia. This happened in real life, and she broke her arm in this incident. In the movie, no broken bones are mentioned, but she’s shown unconscious on the floor, like a rag doll. The entire scene is so clumsily filmed and melodramatic, it comes across as an unintentional bad parody.

As for her civil rights activism, because this movie inaccurately makes it look like Aretha never experienced racism first-hand, she’s portrayed as somewhat of a bystander in the civil rights movement. There’s a scene where Aretha, as a grown woman, asks her father for permission to march in civil rights protests, but he says no. There’s a scene where Aretha is shown getting the news about Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder and later singing at his funeral. And there’s a scene that’s set in 1970, with Aretha giving a press conference where she talks about how imprisoned activist Angela Davis needs to be set free. There are no scenes of Aretha or anyone in her family actually experiencing racism directly, even though everyone knows it happened in real life.

Those are just some examples of how this movie disrespectfully chopped up and/or tossed aside aspects of Aretha’s life, in service of a warped narrative that Aretha never experienced racism, and the only people who ever hurt her were black men. In portraying Aretha’s illustrious and complicated life, this very misguided biopic took the tabloid route and made approximately half of the screen time be about Aretha in an abusive relationship with a man she was married to for eight of the 76 years that she lived.

Was she flawed? Did she make a lot of mistakes? Of course. But she deserved much better than a movie called “Respect” was willing to give her. Fortunately, there are several well-written Aretha Franklin biographies, interviews that she gave over the years, and (of course) her timeless music that give a more meaningful and more accurate picture of who she really was.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures will release “Respect” in U.S. cinemas on August 13, 2021. A one-night-only sneak preview of the movie was held in U.S. cinemas on August 8, 2021.

2019 Academy Awards: performers and presenters announced

February 11, 2019

by Carla Hay

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 6, 2019. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced several entertainers who will be performers and presenters at the 91st Annual Academy Awards ceremony, which will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. ABC will have the U.S. telecast of the show, which will not have a host. As previously reported, comedian/actor Kevin Hart was going to host the show, but he backed out after the show’s producers demanded that he make a public apology for homophobic remarks that he made several years ago. After getting a  firestorm of backlash for the homophobic remarks, Hart later made several public apologies but remained adamant that he would still not host the Oscars this year.

The celebrities who will be on stage at the Oscars this year are several of those whose songs are nominated for Best Original Song. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper will perform their duet “Shallow” from their movie remake of “A Star Is Born.” Jennifer Hudson will perform “I’ll Fight” from the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG.” David Rawlings and Gillian Welch will team up for the duet “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from the Western film “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” It has not yet been announced who will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from the Disney musical sequel “Mary Poppins Returns.”** It also hasn’t been announced yet if Kendrick Lamar and SZA will take the stage for “All the Stars” from the superhero flick “Black Panther.”

Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic do the music for the “In Memoriam” segment, which spotlights notable people in the film industry who have died in the year since the previous Oscar ceremony.

Meanwhile, the following celebrities have been announced as presenters at the ceremony: Whoopi Goldberg (who has hosted the Oscars twice in the past), Awkwafina, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, Jennifer Lopez, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amandla Stenberg, Tessa Thompson Constance Wu, Javier Bardem, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Emilia Clarke, Laura Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Stephan James, Keegan-Michael Key, KiKi Layne, James McAvoy, Melissa McCarthy, Jason Momoa and Sarah Paulson. Goldberg and Bardem are previous Oscar winners.

Other previous Oscar winners taking the stage will be Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney, who won the actor and actress prizes at the 2018 Academy Awards.

Donna Gigliotti (who won an Oscar for Best Picture for 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love) and Emmy-winning director Glenn Weiss are the producers of the 2019 Academy Awards. This will be the first time that Gigliotti is producing the Oscar ceremony. Weiss has directed several major award shows, including the Oscars and the Tonys. He will direct the Oscar ceremony again in 2019.

**February 18, 2019 UPDATE: Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Los Things Go,” the Oscar-nominated song from “Mary Poppins Returns.” British rock band Queen, whose official biopic is the Oscar-nominated film “Bohemian Rhapsody,” will also perform on the show with lead singer Adam Lambert. It has not been revealed which song(s) Queen will perform at the Oscars.

February 19, 2019 UPDATE: These presenters have been added to the Oscar telecast: Elsie Fisher, Danai Gurira, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Keaton, Helen Mirren, John Mulaney, Tyler Perry, Pharrell Williams, Krysten Ritter, Paul Rudd and Michelle Yeoh.

February 21, 2019 UPDATE: These celebrities will present the Best Picture nominees: José Andrés, Dana Carvey, Queen Latifah, Congressman John Lewis, Diego Luna, Tom Morello, Mike Myers, Trevor Noah, Amandla Stenberg, Barbra Streisand and Serena Williams.

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