For the fourth time in the 23-year history of its Image Awards, the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People said Wednesday that it was unable to field a category of best actress in a motion picture because there were too few candidates.
"This appalling situation again highlights the imbalance and irresponsibility of the film industry," said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the organization's Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch. The chapter presents the Image Awards, which honor positive portrayals of blacks in movies, television and music. "The industry has yet to show diversity or present realistic leading roles for African-American women," she said.
At a news conference to announce this year's Image nominees, Evers-Manly said that the NAACP has been meeting with the six major Hollywood studios this year, and believes that changes will be made to improve opportunities for minority actresses.
The NAACP did come up with nominees for best supporting actress in a movie: Joie Lee and Cynda Williams for "Mo' Better Blues," Tisha Campbell for "House Party," Kimberly Russell for "Ghost Dad" and Whoopi Goldberg for "Ghost."
In addition to that nomination, Goldberg was named to receive a special award as entertainer of the year. Dionne Warwick was selected for special recognition as a "crusader in the fight for human rights," and Katherine Dunham, James Earl Jones and the late Sarah Vaughan were chosen for the Hall of Fame Awards.
They and other Image Award winners will be honored at a ceremony Dec. 1 at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. The event will be broadcast on NBC Jan. 26.
The women nominated as best actress in a TV drama were Anne Marie Johnson ("In the Heat of the Night"), C.C.H. Pounder ("Common Ground"), Holly Robinson ("21 Jump Street"), Madge Sinclair ("Midnight Caller") and Alfre Woodard ("A Mother's Courage: The Mary Thomas Story").
On the TV comedy side, best actress nominees were Jasmine Guy and Cree Summer ("A Different World"), Rosetta LeNoire and Jo Marie Payton-France ("Family Matters") and Marsha Warfield ("Night Court").
Nominated for best performance by an actor in a movie were Morgan Freeman for "Driving Miss Daisy," Richard Pryor for "Harlem Nights," Christopher Reid for "House Party" and Denzel Washington for "Mo' Better Blues."