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Sat Mar 27
Live! 8/7c

The Woman Who Helped Re-Imagine Black Hollywood: Ms. Toni Vaz

"In those days, the jobs black people got were playing maids, hookers, Aunt Jemimas."

Ms. Toni Vaz

Ms. Toni Vaz, founder of the NAACP Image Awards

Today, the NAACP Image Awards® is recognized as a celebration of our stories & excellence in entertainment and the nation’s preeminent multicultural award show, but that hasn’t always been the case in Hollywood. Exhausted from being typecast in stereotypical roles as a Black actress, the founder of the NAACP Image Awards, Ms. Toni Vaz, set out to change the perception of Black people in Hollywood. “In those days, the jobs black people got were playing maids, hookers, Aunt Jemimas,” she says. “We can play attorneys and doctors. So, I thought, why don’t we change that image?” As a result, the inaugural NAACP Image Awards was held Feb. 4, 1967, in the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, CA.

Since then, the NAACP Image Awards has been a beacon of our community, showcasing the beauty, boldness, voices, and authenticity in our work. As time progresses the NAACP makes it a priority to understand our community — from children to mature adults — to embody all elements of our culture. As multifaceted beings, the NAACP Image Awards has continued to recognize Black people in different capacities. Although, there is much work to be done in Hollywood. “Recently, I saw a young black actress on TV, and she was talking about what I felt in the ’50s — here she is, dark-skinned and still not getting the roles she should be getting” said Vaz.

This award show allows us to soak in how amazing it feels to be Black and gives us the opportunities to commemorate creators we’ve admired since we could remember. It is here we see the generational baton passed to emerging creators.

The 52nd NAACP Image Awards will hit our community a little differently this year. For the first time since Ms. Toni Vaz put her idea to fruition, the ceremony and events we will be completely virtual. We will miss the fellowship of one another, however, we see this year as an opportunity to create different memories and move the culture forward in a new and exciting way. This award show allows us to soak in how amazing it feels to be Black and gives us the opportunities to commemorate creators we’ve admired since we could remember. It is here we see the generational baton passed to emerging creators.

Make sure you tell your friends to “pull up!” and watch March 27th on BET. Also, be sure to follow us on social media for exclusive content, teasers on the show, and more surprises about the show.

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