*The 48th annual NAACP Image Awards air tonight (Feb. 11) in a two-hour telecast on TV One. Anthony Anderson is hosting the ceremony for the fourth consecutive year as part of his multi-year deal with the event, which is being held again at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
TV One’s coverage will include a live red-carpet pre-show hosted by TV Personality Tai Beauchamp and actor/comedian Chris Spencer. EUR/Electronic Urban Report caught up with the dynamic duo to discuss the NAACP Image Awards all their happenings.
“We don’t have to water anything down,” Spencer said when asked why the NAACP Image Awards is still a special event for black culture and art.
“Anthony Anderson tells a joke about Murray’s grease or Magic Shave, he doesn’t have to follow it with an explanation of what that is, so it’s great in that regard,” he continued. “The NAACP is such a great organization that’s been doing so many wonderful things for so many years. This place is a platform and a vehicle for us to present awards to us and to celebrate us and to celebrate the achievements of the NAACP.”
Tai added, “Just to be in a room full of people that are progressive, working hard, achieving and setting the example in the entertainment industry, and profound examples. I think about young people that look to the NAACP as a historical organization that has paved the way in so many ways for us socially and politically, but to be in a room full of entertainers who are making great strides as leaders and in front of the camera, it also really inspires the next generation, so I’m excited to be there”
The NAACP Image Awards honors the accomplishments of people of color in the realms of television, music, art and film, as well as those who have made significant strides in improving the quality of life in their communities.
“Not only the world of entertainment is in the audience but we’ve got people from the world of politics, and your favorite weatherman might be in the audience, so it’s just great to see these different black people working in different functions that you see on TV, or you read in the media, are actually all here in one room,” Spencer said.
Peep the rest of our Q&A with Tai and Chris below.
Who are you most excited to see on the red carpet?
CHRIS: Well, I’m going to act as the role of Black Joan Rivers, so my goal is to find somebody wearing that wrong outfit and I’m gonna have to give it to ‘em.
TAI: Obviously I’m going to play off of Chris and celebrate the people who are wearing it fabulously and looking amazing. I’m looking forward to seeing Tracee Ellis Ross, she’s so fly. I actually flew in and we had our debacle coming from New York yesterday with all the flights cancelled, so we were in the airport together for like 16 hours waiting to get out and she was like, “I’m taking Friday to chill and just to have fun and be on the red carpet and look fabulous on Saturday.” So I’m looking forward to seeing her. She always just brings her style game to the whole next level. I’m looking forward to seeing my sister Tasha Smith…. just so many people. It’s always like, the energy is just high cause we’re excited going into the awards and seeing who’s going to win. I’m really excited to see who shows up and turns all the way out.
CHRIS: Yeah, Tai’s going to be asking “Who are you wearing?,” and I’m going to be asking “Why are you wearing that?”
When it comes to your red carpet wardrobe, do you have any style inspirations at the moment to help you decide what to wear?
CHRIS: My whole goal is try to keep up with Tai. I just don’t want her to make me look bad so I’m gonna try to find the most expensive clothes there are.
Can you tease about any surprises you have in store for viewers?
CHRIS: Now why would we give away the surprise.
TAI: Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.
Okay, that’s fair… so you can’t tease anything but it’s safe to say viewers can expect something “special” to go down on the red carpet pre-show?
TAI: You might see Chris and I do a two-step…. perhaps.
Will you do any celebrity impersonations?
CHRIS: No, that’s so 2012. My goal is to be the best Chris Spencer that I can be.
Is it important for you to be original and forward thinking with your interview questions?
TAI: So many of these people that walk the red carpet are used to being interviewed but I think at the NAACP especially, because it’s for black people, by black people and mostly black people in the room, we’re able to kind of have a real authentic conversation about what it’s like for them in the industry and how they’re working and really bring a different perceptive that might not be asked otherwise. So if you’re at the Oscars, or the Grammys or another award show, you might not necessary be asked the same questions, so we’re able to kind of dig a little deeper and bring it back to our culture and how it’s relevant to us.
CHRIS: And also, on a lot of the award shows they might treat you B-list, but to us you’re A+ list, so we’re going to treat you how you shoudl’ve been treated on the other carpet and ask those questions and spend more time with you than just giving you a thumbs up or a high-five as you walk by. We really want to know what you’re into, what are your interests, what do you think about the awards. Actually, all of the questions you asked us today, I’m going to use on the red carpet.
Will you touch on politics at all, Trump and his vision for the future of America, or will you steer away from the loaded topics and keep it light and entertaining?
CHRIS: I think we’re just gonna play it by ear. If it happens it happens. We’re not CNN, we’re not MSNBC and we DAMN SURE ain’t Fox, so if something leads to it, I don’t think it’s a problem to actually address [it]. Something might happen tomorrow, they might ban all Black red carpet hosts and so we might have to talk about that.
TAI: The thing about being on the red carpet that a lot of people don’t realize is you usually have such a short period of time to connect with people. The beautiful thing about this environment (is) Chris and I know a lot of the artists and the people who are going to be on the carpet personally, so you really just go with the flow. You take into consideration what that moment is but you want to really connect with them authentically so that the viewers are taking something meaningful, something quick, something fun — a teaser, and really have a great time with it. So it’s all about the feel and the flow of it.
What does it take to create a lively, entertaining and enriching red carpet experience for viewers?
CHRIS: We need Charles Oakley to walk down the carpet and knock over a couple of people.
TAI: It’s all about flow and paying attention and connecting with the person and know when the connection is up, cause we do have a show to start at some point. But it’s all about energy.
CHRIS: It means for us to upbeat, energetic, funny, lively and actually, what we need to do is make sure that we keep it moving, cause sometimes you see people talking to somebody too long or somebody huge just walked by and they might have on a dress made out of hamburger meat and you didn’t get a chance to talk to them.
What are you most looking forward to, your red carpet hosting gig or the hitting up the after parties?
TAI: I love interviewing and I love being on the carpet and talking to people but there’s nothing like doing so with a glass of champagne. So that being said, after we work and have a good time and talk it up, I’m always excited for the champagne part.
CHRIS: And I’m the exact opposite. I don’t drink and I get sleepy around 8:30, so I’ll come by, grab some hors d’oeuvres, put a few cookies in my pocket and head to the crib.
What advice do you give to budding celebrity journalism/presenters out there wanting to start their careers?
TAI: I get asked that so much, I’m fortunate enough to mentor a lot of young people, especially young women who are interested in this space. One thing I say is that people think speaking to people and talking on the red carpet and keeping energy is just as easy as just talking. I say take improve classes, even if you are really focused on the journalistic and kind of reporting side of it because you have to be quick on your feet. I’m not an actress but take acting classes and work hard at knowing how to connect with people cause it’s really about the connection and not just about how you throw questions out there.