Stars Praise Positive Strides for Diversity, Share Distaste with Trump at NAACP Image Awards Luncheon

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Joe Morton

“The more people mix together, the more understanding we have, and the more we all rise together,” 'Scandal' star Joe Morton told THR.

Stars joined together Saturday afternoon for The 48th Annual NAACP Image Awards Luncheon at the Loews Hotel in Los Angeles to celebrate diversity for outstanding achievements of people of color in film, television and literature.

NAACP Chairman, Roslyn Brock expressed her gratitude for those who push the discussion of race and diversity in America.  

“The Image Awards have been around for 48 years and it’s important for us to celebrate the differences in our community," said Brock. "It’s important to be in this position and to be a woman and unapologetically be a woman in leadership. I’m so proud of what’s happening in our nation with young people and women who are standing up to be accountable for what they believe in. Everyone is going to think differently and that’s okay, but what we need to find is common ground and be willing to work on those things where we differ.”

Emayatzy Corinealdi, nominated for outstanding actress in a TV movie, limited-series or dramatic special for her role in Roots, expressed how Hollywood has created a more inclusive and diverse community as opposed to last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

“There is a visible change between last year and this year in film and television," the actress said. "It’s encouraging. We live in a diverse world, in a diverse country. It’s important that we all have an understanding for each other and to have tolerance and to build friendships and relationships.”

However, as individuals walked the red carpet, there was an overarching topic of discussion. On Friday, Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Trump signed an executive order to suspend any refugees for 120 days from entering the U.S. He has suspended citizens from seven Muslim-affiliated countries for 90 days, while indefinitely suspending Syrian refugees. For Trump, this measure is to ensure safety for the U.S. as he is creating, "new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America."

This controversial new measure had everyone talking at the red carpet prior to the luncheon. Joe Morton, nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his role in Scandal, shared with The Hollywood Reporter why this measure will not only harm the future of the U.S. on a national level, but also on a global scale.

“If we’re not allowing refugees and immigrants to come into this country, we’re being very shortsighted in terms of what our own futures have to be, whether it be in technology or just the world in general," the star said. "The more people mix together, the more understanding we have, and the more we all rise together.”

Director Anthony Hemingway shared his frustration with the news as well. “I can’t even talk about it, my skin completely boils when I think of everything that comes out of his mouth,” Hemingway told THR. “We just have to continue to pray that we, as people, learn to come together and realize that we can stand up for ourselves and that we can fight back.”

For actor Jason Stuart, who was nominated for his role in Birth of a Nation, Trump signing the bill on Holocaust Remembrance Day was an emotional experience.

“I feel like I can’t breathe," he told THR. "My father came [to the U.S.] from Poland in 1949 to this country to seek refuge from the Nazis. So what’s happening here is going against the country’s beliefs. This doesn’t make any sense. What it does is that it detracts and you have to protect yourself from other Americans.”

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