Nominees for the 50th NAACP Image Awards. (COURTESY: Dotseye_)

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hosted its 50th NAACP Image Awards Nominees Luncheon this past Saturday at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. The celebration comes weeks before the anticipated 50th NAACP Image Awards.

The luncheon kicked off with hosts Sheryl Lee Ralph and musician MAJOR gracing the stage. After some comedic dialogue between the two, the pair then focused on the rich cultural history of NAACP. They spoke about the importance of inclusion and diversity in Hollywood.

“If we don’t realize we are the people we have been waiting for, then what are we waiting for?” said Ralph.

“Now is the time for us to care about everything concerning people of color.”

Hosts Sherly Lee Ralph and MAJOR on stage at the 50TH NAACP Image Awards Luncheon. (COURTESY: Dotseye_)

MAJOR echoed those same statements.

“As artists, we know that Hollywood shapes what we see. That’s why inclusion in the entertainment industry is so important,” said MAJOR.

There was even some friendly banter between the host’s fraternity and sorority. MAJOR, who is an Alpha Phi Alpha member, gave a shout to his fraternity. While Ralph, who represents Delta Sigma Theta, took time to acknowledge her sorority members in the audience.

But it wasn’t the nominees or hosts who stole the show. It was 97-year-old Toni Vaz who received a thunderous standing ovation. Vaz is the original creator of the Image Awards. Without her commitment, the show wouldn’t be the cultural phenomena it is today.

Another key player who took the stage was NAACP President Derrick Johnson.

Founder of the Image Awards Toni Vaz. (COURTESY: Dotseye_)

“How people see us on the big screen is how they treat us in the streets,” said Johnson.  He went on to congratulate the nominees about why their art is important.

“The Image Awards Nominees Luncheon is an occasion to celebrate the nominees of the prestigious Image Award. We are here today because each of you have been integral in furthering equity, quality, and inclusion.”

As the nominees gathered for photos, singer Emi Secrest gave a special musical performance to the crowd. She performed her own original songs and even some musical renditions such as Childish Gambino’s sultry song ‘Redbone’.

The 50th NAACP Image Awards will premiere on Saturday, March 30 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The show will air live on TV ONE and will be hosted by comedian and actor Anthony Anderson.