Will Smith received the NAACP Image Award for best actor in a motion picture for his performance in “Emancipation” on Saturday night, marking his first award win since slapping Chris Rock onstage at the 2022 Oscars.
Smith was unable to accept his award in person since he wasn’t able to attend the ceremony.
According to Yahoo, Smith plays a runaway slave who starts on a perilous voyage to Baton Rouge while evading violent plantation owners in 19th-century Louisiana.
“Emancipation” was inspired by the 1863 picture “Whipped Peter,” which shows a formerly enslaved man with severe lacerations on his back. The image’s wide distribution brought slavery’s brutality to the awareness of the American people.
After Smith’s incident at the Oscars, Apple TV+ shifted its focus to positioning the historical drama as an awards season contender, releasing it in October.
Smith, who also served as a producer on the picture, will collect a Beacon Award from the African-American Film Critics Association on March 1 with director Antoine Fuqua for his contribution to the film. The film was also nominated in two categories for the Black Reel Awards.
Smith’s victory comes over a year after the heated 2022 Oscars, during which the actor slapped Rock after a sick joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, was made.
Smith went on to win the Oscar for best actor for his performance in “King Richard” moments later. Smith was barred from attending any Academy-sponsored activities for the following decade as a result of the altercation.
At the NAACP Image Awards, Daniel Kaluuya (“Nope”), Jonathan Majors (“Devotion”), Joshua Boone (“A Jazzman’s Blues”), and Sterling K. Brown (“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul”) were also nominated for best actor in a motion film.
A four-day virtual award show followed the February 25 NAACP Image Awards, which were held in person for the first time since February 2020.
Queen Latifah presented the 54th annual awards event live from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, naming winners in this year’s motion picture and television categories.