Behind the Scenes of the 50th Anniversary of the NAACP Image Awards

Image: TV One

The biggest moment in the history of the NAACP Image Award Show, was the 50th Anniversary celebration, planted in the heart of the Hollywood famous Dolby Theatre. We got the exclusives on all the background of the stage, the nominations, the producers, the host, Anthony Anderson, and just what was to be expected from the 50th Anniversary Image Awards Show.

Joe Stewart, Courtesy of Jambalya – Stage Designer

MillBuzz: What went into all of the intricate parts of designing the stage of the 50th anniversary NAACP Image Awards Show?

Stewart: This is a very special year because it’s the 50th Anniversary. I designed the set before, but we saw that we needed something new, something modern, and because we are in a legendary venue we know that we needed a new idea and a new look. We went into a couple of different directions on deciding that this was a set that we were going to do.

MillBuzz: You have designed so many different stages for the Image Awards Show, what is so different about the set up at Dolby Theatre?

Stewart: The thing about this place is that it is the home of the Oscars so it comes with this gravitas that the American audience has seen on stage so many times, decorated in many different ways. There is a kind of importance when you’re doing a set at the Dolby Theater. It transfers into the project that’s going to be amazing. It’s a legendary venue, anything in here will, of course, be a legendary project. This is why it is so perfect for the 50th Anniversary of the NAACP Image Awards Show.

MillBuzz: When people watch the 50th Anniversary Image Awards Show, what do you want them to notice about the set?

Stewart: I hope that the scenery doesn’t become terribly important. It is a backdrop to yet another backdrop. It’s just going to set the tone of the evening, but what I want people to take away from this is the importance of the organization. That the 50th Anniversary of the NAACP really means something and that’s the significance of this show is to see how important it is.

MillBuzz: How do you feel about being apart of this historic moment?

Stewart: I am so honored to be working on this particular show, it makes a difference to me. I’ve worked on it for years, but the idea whenever there’s an anniversary, it’s wonderful to be involved in it.

Tony McCuin, Courtesy of IMBD – Director of Image Awards Show

MillBuzz: Although you have directed this award show for years, what have you done specifically to make sure the show is different each year?

McCuin: What I’ve tried to do is not only introduce new shows but with the NAACP Image Awards, it’s about the story. I can do some crazy open shots and some crazy steady camera moves but at the end of the day it’s about the story, it’s about the people that are in the audience. I make it about acknowledging those who have succeeded at everything, overcome everything, and sometimes with this show the best directing is the one you don’t notice. The shots that you don’t notice that just simply move you, and that is the strange thing because it is not gratuitous, there is not a lot of stuff flying around on purpose. They have given me the things I need to make stuff fly around with, and do I have my moments, yea, but at the end of the day, it is that reaction shot of Samuel L. Jackson that means everything.

MillBuzz: How do you plan to make the 50th Anniversary show so special?

McCuin: This year was so different because marking my run down and my script I had to look at all the celebrities and stars that we had on our roster. There is a star coming around every single corner as you are marking your entrances, you’re like “OH MY GOD”, and then you go to stage right and “OH MY GOD”, so even as a director, although I should be over this by now, I still am in shock and in awe of the number of celebrities, star power, and political figures that are on the show, it is absolutely overwhelming.

MillBuzz: How is having a bunch of celebrities on the show and having so much Black excellence in one room?

McCuin: It’s interesting because you direct as a fan being in the control room and there is a moment when you as a director take a shot of Beyonce, and for that hot second you pause and you say OMG it’s Beyonce.

Meta Golding, Courtesy of Getty Images – Nominated Recipient

MillBuzz: How does it feel to be nominated for the 50th Anniversary NAACP Image Awards?

Golding: It feels amazing, I am so happy to be here especially since it is the 50th anniversary and I am being nominated and recognized for playing Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks was part of the NAACP when it was really dangerous, and when the NAACP was considered a radical group. Now it is a cool, wonderful, and well-accepted organization, but back when it first started out it was considered really dangerous to be a part of, especially in the segregated south. To be here with this film and it’s the 50th anniversary, it’s so beautiful.

MillBuzz: What can we expect to see captured from Ms. Parks story on the award show?

Golding: Now that it is being honored, I hope that more people come to see the film. Ms. Park’s story and the way that the Montgomery Bus Boycott happened has really been glossed over, and it’s new information, it’s our history, it’s American history and its global history. Ms. Parks means so many things to so many people around the world. Just the way Gandhi affected Martin Luther King, we affect others. I hope through her story people understand their own history a little bit better and are inspired by these wonderful people that came before us.

Anthony Anderson, Courtesy of Getty Images, – Host

MillBuzz: How do you feel about hosting the 50th Anniversary Image Awards show?

Anderson: I feel great. When I took over as host for the NAACP Image Awards six years ago, I wanted to stay on at least until the 50th anniversary, and I also wanted to move them to the Dolby Theatre, and here we are killing two birds with one stone.

MillBuzz: Every year is different, what is going to make this year different for you hosting?

Anderson: The number associated with the award show, this is the golden anniversary, fifty years is a milestone. I am excited about who we will have in the audience, who we will have on stage, and to be able to celebrate 50 years of awarding excellence.

MillBuzz: What does the Image Awards personally mean to you?

Anderson: I am a product of their youth organization. I started when I was fourteen or fifteen years old until today, and that is a long time to be a part of an organization. Now to host their coveted award show, it means a great deal for me because it is a celebration of the community, our artists, our community leaders, our philanthropists and so forth. If we can’t celebrate ourselves, we can’t depend on anyone else to do that for us, so that’s what it means to me, to be able to be a part of this and see my community out in the stands and see them walk across the stage is a beautiful thing. It is a night of black excellence.

MillBuzz: How do you capture and cultivate every person in the audience when you host?

Anderson: You don’t, I know that it is there for the masses, but I am not trying to capture everyone at the same time. I cannot try to capture individuals, I am just trying to be my authentic self and being myself is what resonates with the audience. Being authentic to my brand and who I am is what makes me acceptable to everyone. When you try to panhandle an individual group that’s when you lose the essence and the broadness of how you can affect and have an effect on people. I stay true to who I am and give them me. The great thing about being a host and being on stage is that the audience eats what you feed them, they either like it, or they don’t, but its the meal that you prepared, and you’re happy with the meal that you prepared. Everyone will have their opinion, but if you’ve prepared whatever it is to your best ability and you’re happy with it, that’s all that matters, and then you just give it.

MillBuzz: What do you want people to get from this award show?

Anderson: I want people to be entertained, to come together and celebrate themselves. This is a celebration of us. The forty-ninth and the fifty-first shows are great shows, but there’s nothing like the 50th Anniversary, there is something about numbers. This is a big event, this is a milestone, and we are here to celebrate each other and ourselves.


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