Four-time NAACP Image Award recipient and multifaceted icon Queen Latifah opened the 2023 NAACP Image Awards with the liberating number “I’m Gonna Live Til I Die” on Sunday night (Feb. 25). Wearing a black and white gown, the “U.N.I.T.Y” spitter showed off her vocal skills and performed a monologue all about the “drive, determination and success” of the Black royalty in the room.
“That’s right. Live, live, live. That’s what we all must do,” Latifah declared following her musical opener. “Look at us. I see so many beautiful Black queens and kings.”
With her classic 1989 hit “Ladies First” and Lizzo’s “About Damn Time” playing in the background, the Queen Collective founder shouted out her fellow Black impresarios contributing to the night of Black excellence.
Latifah also made sure to spotlight the Black women in the room who she deemed to be “superheroes.” The Equalizer lead shouted out her Girls Trip co-star Regina Hall, newly-minted EGOT winner Viola Davis, Quinta Brunson, Kerry Washington, Issa Rae, honoree Serena Williams, and others before stopping the music to highlight Angela Bassett.
Showing love to the amazing Black men in the room, the Newark, N.J. native made sure to highlight Cliff “Method Man” Smith who she mentioned hasn’t aged, Creed III‘s Jonathan Majors who she questioned about his various acting roles, as well as director and billion-dollar box office earner Ryan Coogler.
Latifah even made sure to turn the spotlight on Black political figures including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
The 52-year-old singer closed out her opener by noting the “ongoing heartbreaking murders” of many Black and Brown men and women who were victims of racially-charged killings. Names were displayed on a jumbotron behind her including Tyre Nichols, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and more.
Moments before bringing Britney Griner and her wife to the stage, Latifah left the audience to ponder about loving each other more and celebrating each other.
Watch Queen Latifah kick off the 2023 NAACP Image Awards above.