Still from Black as Night

Alumni Win 2022 NAACP Image Awards

BY Angeline Dimambro, March 16, 2022

Update: Winners of the 2022 NAACP Image Awards have been announced and several projects with a connection to Columbia University are among the honorees.


7 Prisoners, produced by Associate Professor Ramin Bahrani (CC ’96), received the honor of Outstanding International Motion Picture. Encanto, executive produced by alumna and Chief Creative Officer for Walt Disney Studios Jennifer Lee ’05, took home the honor of Outstanding Animated Motion Picture. Judas and the Black Messiah, which featured alumna Amber Chardae Robinson, won two awards: Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture. Actor Daniel Kaluuya also won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his portrayal of Fred Hampton in the film. 


The complete list of winners can be found here.




2022 marks the 53rd annual NAACP Image Awards. Among the nominees are five projects from Columbia alumni. The NAACP is the home of grassroots activism for civil rights and social justice. The organization has more than 2,200 units across the nation, powered by well over 2 million activists.


Nominated in the category of Outstanding International Motion Picture are 7 Prisoners, produced by Associate Professor Ramin Bahrani (CC ’96), and Eyimofe (This Is My Desire), the first feature from alumnus Arie Esiri ’19.


7 Prisoners (dir. Alexandre Moratto, 2021), which premiered on Netflix in November 2021, is a drama that centers on an impoverished teen seeking to escape the clutches of a human trafficker. Through all this, the teen must weigh living up to his moral code against his struggle to survive. Called an “accomplished, socially conscious thriller” in a review from Variety, the film notably won the Sorriso Diverso Venezia Award after its acclaimed premiere at the Venice Film Festival.


Set in Lagos, Nigeria and told in two chapters, Eyimofe follows the stories of Mofe, a factory technician, and Rosa, a hairdresser, on their quest for what they believe will be a better life on foreign shores. At the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, status, money, gender, skin color, and family structures are inextricably connected. The longing for another life is but one thread in this complex mesh, a promise that floats above things at once near and far. Esiri co-directed and co-wrote the feature alongside his brother, Chuko Esiri, and fellow alumnus Andrew Stephen Lee '18 served as the editor of the film.


Alumna Amber Chardae Robinson ’15 has been nominated alongside her fellow Judas and the Black Messiah cast members for the award of Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture. In Judas and the Black Messiah, William O'Neal is offered a plea deal by the FBI to infiltrate the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton. Robinson plays the fictional role of Betty Coachman in the film. Robinson’s character is composed of numerous real women who were members of the Black Panther Party. 


Alumna Tracy K. Smith ’97 has been nominated for Outstanding Literary Work (poetry) for her collection, Such Color: New and Selected Poems. Such Color marks Smith’s first career-spanning volume, comprising the best poems from Smith’s four award-winning collections as well as thirty pages of new poems. Smith’s work navigates desire and the body, investigates history across time, extends towards the outer reaches of space, and delves into the violence facing language and people. The collection “traces an increasingly audacious commitment to exploring the unknowable, the immense mysteries of existence.”


Alumnus Sherman Payne ’10 is also nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie or Special for Black as Night. Payne is the writer of the feature horror film, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video on October 1, 2021. The film was part of Amazon’s Welcome To The Blumhouse film anthology, a collection of unsettling genre films that tap into our deepest fears. Black as Night follows a teenage girl with self-esteem issues who finds confidence in the most unlikely way by spending her summer battling vampires that prey on New Orleans' disenfranchised, with the help of her best friend, the boy she's always pined for, and a peculiar rich girl. 


The NAACP Image Awards Ceremony will take place on Saturday, February 26, 2022 at 8 pm ET on BET.