Tinseltown power broker invests in Image Awards
This year marks the 10th time that Hollywood heavyweight Vicangelo Bulluck has served as the executive producer of the NAACP Image Awards, the nation’s premier event celebrating outstanding achievements and performances by people of color in the arts and in the promotion of social justice.
Despite his stature, the man known to his friends as Vic is a mild-mannered Renaissance man — an utterly unpretentious executive who’s clearly secure with his station in life.
In his dual capacity as an executive director/producer of the venerable organization’s Hollywood chapter and its heralded awards show, Bulluck is dedicated to building bridges designed to provide opportunities to all qualified people of color.
Under the capable leadership of NAACP President and CEO Bruce S. Gordon, Bulluck is committed to making major strides in increasing the prestige that the Image Award carries for its honorees.
Bulluck promises that this year’s show, set to air live tomorrow night at 8 p.m. on Fox, will be the best yet. He recently took a few moments to weigh in on his work and on what the Image Awards have come to represent.
How would you describe what you do as director of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau and executive producer of the Image Awards?
Well, obviously, I have a variety of different responsibilities … ongoing responsibilities as to the NAACP’s diversity initiatives in Hollywood and working with the networks in regards to employment of minorities in front of and behind the cameras. Then there is the seasonal work of the Image Awards and overseeing the production of that program.
When does planning for an Image Awards show begin?
It starts as early as the day after the last one finished.
Who picks the airdate?
The date is chosen in coordination with the NAACP and Fox, the network that broadcasts the show.
What do you have to say to those people who think the NAACP has outlived its usefulness, especially since it still has the seemingly outdated term “colored” in the name of the organization?
These are two different issues you’re raising. The name and the use of “colored people,” on one level, may be perceived as dated, and then on another level, it’s perceived as progressive. If you talk about just the context of African Americans, to be called colored may feel dated, but if you talk about the colored people of the world, it’s progressive. The NAACP is essentially a civil rights, human rights organization that came about because of the injustices against the African American community. We maintain the work we do in the African American community, but we also feel there are lessons to be learned for all colored people around the world and all those who are suffering under any form of oppression, which is why the NAACP also is active internationally.
In regards to people feeling that it’s a dated organization, all I can say is: the NAACP is still very active, it’s very vital. The African American community has come a long way, but there are still many issues taking place daily that center around the inequities of race. Whether it’s the workplace where reports continually verify there is discrimination based on race and color, education or health disparities, the NAACP has remained continually active [in] fighting on behalf of disenfranchised people. So, those who feel that the organization is dated and done with are probably not people who are politically aware.
Why are the Image Awards so important, especially since there are now other award shows that also recognize achievers of color?
That may be true, but the Image Awards were here first. If you just look at the legacy of those who have been recognized by the Image Awards in the past, like megastars Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis Jr., it’s a qualitative difference between what we do and what takes place on other award shows. I can actually only think of two others, and the Image Awards is the only one airing on a primetime network.
I assume that the idea of the Image Awards is to honor outstanding people of color in entertainment, but with limited roles on movies and television for those artists, it appears the same actors are being nominated each year. Aren’t some outstanding artists being overlooked somehow?
I think there is some truth in that. I think the other truth is that our communities are very loyal, loving fans, and so when they take that performer or artist to heart, they track that artist for a long time. We have had people that any time they were nominated, you wouldn’t want to be in the category competing against them, whether it was back in the day when Della Reese, Luther Vandross or Denzel Washington won for a stretch. I think you do see lots of changes as new talent comes along.
I’ve felt some frustration in the past over the small pool from which the Image Awards winners seem to be selected.
That’s kind of the nature of award shows in general. The nominees are picked by a committee, but then voted on individually. So, it’s not like there’s a gathering where they go “Oh, wow, let’s vote for so-and-so.” I think if you look at the history of all award shows, the unfortunate reality is that an actor’s first major performance rarely gets any recognition. It’s the body of work that’s tends to get rewarded.
If the NAACP is representing people of all colors, how come the nominees are always black?
This year, we have America Ferrera (star of ABC’s “Ugly Betty”), George Lopez and Penelope Cruz (star of the Academy Award-nominated film “Volver”}. And in our Independent/Foreign Film category, we have “Curse of the Golden Flower” and “Volver.” Mario Vasquez is also nominated as Outstanding New Artist and (the Nickelodeon cartoon show) “Dora the Explorer” is up for Outstanding Children’s Programming. The point is that the nomination process is open in that regard.
Anything new about this year’s show?
We are going live, so people will get to know who wins as the envelope is opened. We’ll be taping at 5 p.m. on the West Coast, and simultaneously airing live at 8 p.m. for the East Coast.
How do you think that will change the program?
We’ll just have to be tight and punctual.