Queen Latifah Returns to Host NAACP Image Awards, Amanda Gorman and June Ambrose to Receive Special Honors

Queen Latifah will return to host the 55th annual NAACP Image Awards after emceeing the ceremony for the first time last year.

The NAACP also announced that writer, poet and activist Amanda Gorman will be honored with the prestigious Chairman’s Award, while this year’s Vanguard Award will go to costume designer, designer and tastemaker June Ambrose in honor of her decades as a pioneer in the fashion industry.

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“We are thrilled to collaborate with groundbreaking megastar Queen Latifah and are elated to welcome her again as this year’s host,” said Connie Orlando, EVP Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy at BET, in a statement announcing the news. “Queen Latifah, NAACP and Pastis have been such incredible partners in amplifying Black culture, excellence, creativity, and ingenuity, and this year’s unforgettable show will be no different.” She also saluted Gorman and Ambrose for their “tremendous impact on culture.”

NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson noted the annual ceremony’s importance to the community and entertainment industry. “We get the opportunity to highlight the major accomplishments of artists, writers, entertainers, activists and other change makers that push Black excellence forward in a powerful way,” he said.

The 55th NAACP Image Awards will air live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 16, at 8:00 P.M. ET/PT on BET and CBS. The Chairman’s Award will be presented during the broadcast, while the Vanguard Award will be presented during the Image Awards fashion show on Friday, March 15.

Over the course of her career (and on top of Emmy and Grammy wins and an Oscar nod), Latifah has nabbed more than 20 NAACP Image Award nominations and won four trophies. For the third consecutive year, she’s nominated for outstanding actress in a drama series for her starring role on the hit CBS series “The Equalizer,” a category that also boasts Angela Bassett (“9-1-1”), India Ria Amarteifio (“Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story”), Octavia Spencer (“Truth Be Told”) and Zoe Saldaña (“Special Ops: Lioness”).

Gorman, who broke into the global consciousness with a stirring performance of her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 2021 presidential inauguration, has been selected to receive the Chairman’s Award, which is bestowed in recognition of individuals who “demonstrate exemplary public service and use their distinct platforms to create agents of change.” Past recipients of the prestigious award include then-Senator Barack Obama, Tyler Perry, Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Glover, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis and Ruby Dee, among others.

“Amanda Gorman stands as one of the brightest young voices in our nation and has emerged as a formidable force inspiring a new generation of leaders towards transformative change through her advocacy efforts and poetic brilliance,” said Leon W. Russell, chairman of the NAACP national board of directors. “With her exceptional talent and unwavering commitment to positive change, Gorman continues to leave an indelible mark on the literary and social landscape, proving that words have the power to shape a better future.”

Following the inauguration, Gorman has risen to prominence as an activist, advocating for literacy, education, and civic engagement. She was named Estee Lauder’s first “Global Changemaker” and created the Writing Change initiative to support grassroots organizations dedicated to advancing literacy as a “pathway to equality, access, and social change through young voices.” Gorman was also recognized among Variety’s Power of Women honorees in 2021 (an honor shared with Latifah, who was honored in 2022).

Likewise, Ambrose has spent the better part of two decades shaping culture through crafting iconic looks for some of the biggest names in music (Missy Elliott and Jay-Z), film (the Hype Williams-directed drama “Belly”) and sports. In 2020, Ambrose became the creative director for Puma, launching the company’s women’s basketball division and releasing a number of important collections over her four-year tenure.

“As a fashion icon and cultural pioneer, June Ambrose has not only shaped the visual landscape of pop culture but has also elevated the conversation around the importance of diversity and inclusion in the world of fashion and entertainment,” said Karen Boykin-Towns, vice-chair of the NAACP National Board of Directors, and chairman of the Image Awards Committee. “Her multifaceted contributions have left an enduring legacy that transcends fashion, paving the way for a more representative and dynamic industry.”

In addition to the broadcast, NAACP will also recognize winners in non–televised categories from March 11-13 on, during the awards dinner on March 14 and at fashion show on March 15. More information and updated can be found on the NAACP Image Awards’ Instagram (@NAACPImageAwards).

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