Jennifer Hudson shot to fame after appearing in American Idol
Singers Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson have both scooped prizes at the 40th NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles.
Beyonce, who opened the show with her song Halo, picked up the award for best female artist and Oscar-winner Hudson won the new artist award.
Hudson, who rose to fame on American Idol in 2002, also performed The Impossible Dream for the President's Award recipient Muhammad Ali.
Will Smith accepted the outstanding actor for Seven Pounds.
'Cherish and appreciate'
During his speech, he referred to new US President Barack Obama.
"This is a rare opportunity for me," said Smith.
"I stand on this stage today after a dream that I've dreamed for a long time because we have an African-American president.
"As a child, my parents always told me you could be whatever you want to be. You can do whatever you want to do."
The awards honour achievements and performances of people of colour in TV, film, music and literature.
Accepting her trophy on stage, Hudson said: "This is where we come from.
"So it's always an honour to come home and feel welcome and to feel the love. I really cherish this and appreciate it," she added.
The event, which took place at the Shrine Auditorium, was hosted by actress Halle Berry and actor-screenwriter Tyler Perry.
Russell Simmons was joined on stage with his children
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a prominent US civil rights group.
The show coincided with the 100th anniversary of the organisation.
The Secret Life of Bees won best motion picture and Grey's Anatomy was named best for TV drama.
Sean 'Diddy' Combs picked up the TV movie actor prize for his role in A Raisin in the Sun.
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons was given the Vanguard Award, presented to an individual or group who raises awareness of racial and social issues.
He said: "I discovered that giving made me happy.
"As you get older, that's the easy route, so it's always been such an easy thing. It seems kind of crazy to be honoured for it."
Both Chris Brown and girlfriend Rihanna, stayed away from the ceremony, despite being nominated.
Brown was arrested earlier this week on charges of making criminal threats on an unidentified woman, widely reported to be Rihanna.