Jussie Smollett: Chris Rock addressed the elephant NOT in the room at NAACP Image Awards

by Kim Boateng Posted on March 31st, 2019

Presenter Chris Rock addressed the elephant NOT in the room at Saturday’s NAACP Image Awards, where he cracked wise about Jussie Smollett just four days after prosecutors dropped all charges against the Empire star for the alleged staging of a hate crime attack against himself in January.

“They said no Jussie Smollett jokes,” Rock began. “I know. What a waste of light skin. You know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair? My career would be out of here. F–king running Hollywood!

“What the hell was he thinking?” Rock continued. “You’re Jessie from now on… You don’t even get the ‘U’ no more. That ‘U’ was respect. You ain’t gettin’ no respect from me.”

Smollett was a no-show at this weekend’s Image Awards ceremony. A four-time nominee (and one-time winner) for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Smollett lost his category this year to Grey’s Anatomy‘s Jesse Williams

After Smollett was relieved of all charges earlier this week, Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who previously criticized Smollett after evidence suggested that he staged the attack, maintained that justice had not been served. Meanwhile, Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that “[Smollett] did this all in the name of self-promotion,” and referred to the dropped charges as a “whitewash of justice.”

Even President Donald Trump weighed in on the stunning turn of events, imploring the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice to take a closer look at Smollett’s case. In a tweet, he referred to to the actor’s recent legal saga as “an embarrassment to our Nation!”

Following Smollett’s initial arrest on Feb. 21, Empire opted to remove his character, Jamal, from the final two episodes of the current season, and producers were said to be mulling a recast of the role. But once charges were dropped, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment put out a joint statement, which read, “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.” It is unknown whether he’ll be invited to return to the series for a hypothetical Season 6.

Watch video of Rock’s Smollett quips below.

The 50th NAACP Image Awards were handed out on Saturday night and featured a number of repeat victors: ABC’s black-ish took home its fourth consecutive award for Outstanding Comedy Series, as did stars Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson (who also hosted the ceremony) in the lead actor categories. Taraji P. Henson triumphed for the third year in a row, winning Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for Empire.

This year’s winners list also included several first-timers, including Grey’s Anatomy‘s Jesse Williams, who triumphed over embattled Empire star Jussie Smollett in the race for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

The annual gala celebrates the achievements and performances of people of color in the arts, as well as those who promote social justice through creative endeavors. Below is the full list of television winners

Complete list of this year’s winners

Outstanding Comedy Series
Atlanta (FX)
black-ish (ABC) — WINNER
Dear White People (Netflix)
grown-ish (Freeform)
Insecure (HBO)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, black-ish — WINNER
Cedric the Entertainer, The Neighborhood
Donald Glover, Atlanta
Dwayne Johnson, Ballers
Tracy Morgan, The Last O.G.

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series
Danielle Brooks, Orange Is the New Black
Issa Rae, Insecure
Logan Browning, Dear White People
Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish — WINNER
Yara Shahidi, grown-ish

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Jay Ellis, Insecure
John David Washington, Ballers
Laurence Fishburne, black-ish
Marcus Scribner, black-ish — WINNER
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Essence Atkins, Marlon
Marsai Martin, black-ish — WINNER
Natasha Rothwell, Insecure
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
Yvonne Orji, Insecure

Outstanding Drama Series
How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)
Power (Starz) — WINNER
Queen Sugar (OWN)
The Chi (Showtime)
This Is Us (NBC)

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
Jason Mitchell, The Chi
Keith David, Greenleaf
Kofi Siriboe, Queen Sugar
Omari Hardwick, Power — WINNER
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Alfre Woodard, Marvel’s Luke Cage
Naturi Naughton, Power
Rutina Wesley, Queen Sugar
Taraji P. Henson, Empire — WINNER
Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jesse Williams, Grey’s Anatomy — WINNER
Joe Morton, Scandal
Jussie Smollett, Empire
Romany Malco, A Million Little Things
Wendell Pierce, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
CCH Pounder, NCIS: New Orleans
Lynn Whitfield, Greenleaf — WINNER
Sanaa Lathan, The Affair
Susan Kelechi Watson, This Is Us
Thandie Newton, Westworld

Outstanding Guest Performance in a Comedy or Drama Series
Erika Alexander, Black Lightning
Kendrick Lamar, Power
Kerry Washington, How to Get Away With Murder — WINNER
Loretta Devine, Love Is__
Tisha Campbell-Martin, Empire

Outstanding Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
Behind the Movement (TV One)
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert (NBC)
Seven Seconds (Netflix)
The Bobby Brown Story (BET) — WINNER
The Simone Biles Story: Courage to Soar (Lifetime)

Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
Brandon Victor Dixon, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
John Legend, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
Michael B. Jordan, Fahrenheit 451 — WINNER
Russell Hornsby, Seven Seconds
Woody McClain, The Bobby Brown Story

Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
Anna Deavere Smith, Notes From the Field
Gabrielle Dennis, The Bobby Brown Story
Jeanté Godlock, The Simone Biles Story: Courage to Soar
Regina King, Seven Seconds — WINNER
Toni Braxton, Faith Under Fire: The Antoinette Tuff Story

Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited-Series)
Alex R. Hibbert, The Chi
Lonnie Chavis, This Is Us
Lyric Ross, This Is Us
Marsai Martin, black-ish — WINNER
Miles Brown, black-ish

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Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

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