It’s a big weekend in Hollywood. The NAACP Image Awards are happening tomorrow, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards are on Sunday night with celebrity crossover between the two events as multiple entertainers are nominated at both, including Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Jennifer Hudson, Ariana DeBose and more. The Image Awards, however, have two advantages where the star guest list is concerned. The first advantage: Zendaya.
Zendaya is a presenter and a nominee. And she’s been in Rome the last few days, perhaps doing some fittings for her upcoming appearances. Please correct me if I’m wrong but I just did a quick check and I’m pretty sure Z hasn’t been to the Image Awards since 2012, ten years ago. Here’s a photo from back then:
I mean, it’s an understatement to say that a LOT has happened since. Zendaya is a big f-cking deal now – and if it is indeed the case that this will be her first time at the NAACP Image Awards in a decade, she might break Twitter when she shows up, heads up. So there’s a name on the guest list that the Image Awards have that SAG doesn’t.
Oh and also… royalty.
It was announced yesterday that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will receive the NAACP President’s Award in recognition of their public service and advocacy. Previous honorees of the President’s Award include Muhammad Ali, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Spike Lee, Venus and Serena Williams, Jay-Z, LeBron James, and Rihanna. What a great way to make their American award show debut – because, of course, the Image Awards celebrate entertainers, but they also serve a greater purpose, highlighting how art and and performance and cultural contributions can advance the push for equality and racial justice.
In tandem with their award, Harry and Meghan are also partnering with the NAACP on the creation of a new award through their Archewell Foundation, awarding $100,000 each year to leaders “creating transformational change – at the intersection of social justice and technology – to advance civil and human rights”.
So will Harry and Meghan walk the carpet? It would be a moment, for sure, but I think it’s low probability. That said, I think it’s quite possible that they’ll be seated, at least for a portion of the show, in the front row. And I’m counting on the director for good cutaways.
In other Sussex news, they also released a statement yesterday with their thoughts on the Russian invasion of Ukraine:
From the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their team at the Archewell Foundation: pic.twitter.com/kd9vs9suJS— Omid Scobie (@scobie) February 24, 2022
Needless to say, this would have been impossible had they not stepped away from being senior members of the British royal family. Harry and Meghan are reacting to Russian’s outrageous aggression in Ukraine, specifically, but also, over and above that, what Russia’s been doing for a long time is the kind of sh-t that Harry’s been calling out and where he’s focused much of his work – cyber warfare through disinformation and misinformation that has had devastating social and political consequences. This has been and continues to be one of Russia’s weapons of warfare. For years Russian hackers and cyber soldiers have been disrupting stability in countries around the world, eroding confidence in public institutions and fracturing citizen solidarity – with one of the objectives being to weaken the ability of other global leaders to get domestic consensus in opposing their f-cksh-t.
So Harry’s not simply just weighing in on foreign affairs on this occasion; he has actively been raising awareness about the consequences of this kind of online crime. As he told Fast Company last year, “We are losing loved ones to conspiracy theories, losing a sense of self because of the barrage of mistruths, and at the largest scale, losing our democracies”.
What is happening in Ukraine is the “largest scale”.