Will Smith surprisingly took home the gold for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture at the 2023 NAACP Image Awards. Smith, 54, took to Instagram to bask in the glory of his win, shouted out Emancipation’s cast, and showed love to the Black-focused organization for looking past his Oscar controversy.
“WOW!! NAACP!! I am absolutely humbled by this!! I want to share this with my entire #Emancipation family – @antoinefuqua, @charmainebingwa, Ben, Bob, Jon the whole team at Westbrook and Apple TV… I am so proud of the work we put into this film.”
“I would like to thank the NAACP for honoring our film! Derrick Johnson – you and your entire organization – and the work you do all year round – is truly important, so to be recognized by y’all – it means a lot,” the Philadelphia native continued. “Also – can we give my girl Queen Latifah her flowers? She is KILLIN’ it as host tonight!”
Westbrook Inc. also posted a photo celebrating the acclaimed actor and comedian’s win at the annual award show, calling for audiences to watch the film.
“Congrats to Will Smith on his win tonight at the @naacpimageawards for his marvelous work in Emancipation- if you haven’t seen his powerful performance in this Apple TV film – do yourself a favor and fix that!!”
In December 2022, the Oscar-winning actor shed light on his mental state during the film’s production, disclosing that he almost psychologically lost himself in portraying Peter.
“I wouldn’t say I went too far with Peter, I’d just say I lost track of how far I went,” he said, detailing his time on the Emancipation set. “When you go that one click too far, Will Smith disappears. Psychologically, you go farther and farther into Peter, and you don’t realize that you are slipping away.”
Emancipation follows the story of “Whipped Peter” and his journey from enslaved man to a soldier. The Apple TV+ film is based on the real-life story of Gordon, the enslaved man whose whip scars were photographed in 1863 for the infamous “scourged back” photo depicting the freedman with a blistered back.
Emancipation was released on Dec. 9, 2022 on Apple TV+.