Chris Rock is making headlines for his jokes at the 50th NAACP Image Awards Saturday Night. While black-ish’s Anthony Anderson hosted the awards show, Rock stole focus with his jokes about Jussie Smollett.
Smollett received a nomination this year for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role on Empire. However, after recent news broke that Smollett allegedly reported a hate crime that never took place (charges have since been dropped, though the conditions of which are unclear), the actor decided not to attend the NAACP Image Awards.
TV One broadcasted the star-studded event and featured appearances from Issa Rae, Mike Epps, Jimmy O. Yang, Lena Waithe, Trevor Noah, and more. While there was a long list of presenters and nominees, Rock captured everyone’s attention with some comments.
Before presenting the award for Outstanding Comedy Series to ABC’s black-ish, Rock decided to make some jokes. The Tamborine comedian was apparently told not to do any Jussie Smollett jokes. “Yeah, I know, but what a waste of light skin,” he said. “Do you know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair—my career would be out of here. I would be running Hollywood. What the hell was he thinking? You are known as ‘Jessie’ for now on. You don’t even get the ‘u’ anymore. That ‘u’ was for respect. You ain’t getting no respect from me.”
black-ish star stands with Jussie Smollett
While Rock was talking, the camera panned over the audience and focused on Noah who was almost in tears due to laughing. When the cast of black-ish came to accept the award, Yara Shahidi quickly interjected, “I stand with Jussie,” before handing the mic to fellow black-ish star Marcus Scribner.
Smollett did not win his category, losing to Grey’s Anatomy’s Jessie Williams. Smollett has not publicly responded to the jokes.
You can watch Rock go off at the NAACP Image Awards below.