Hanelle Culpepper Wins NAACP Image Award For Directing ‘Star Trek: Picard’

This week the NAACP is announcing the winners of the 52nd Image Awards in a series of virtual events each night this week. The Image Awards honors outstanding performances in film, television, music, and literature and Star Trek came into the week with three nominations and took home one award.

Culpepper wins for Picard

On Tuesday, director Hanelle Culpepper won the Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for her work on the series premiere of Star Trek: Picard “Remembrance.” She beat out competition from Cheryl Dunye (Lovecraft Country – “Strange Case” on HBO), Misha Green (Lovecraft Country – “Jig-a-Bobo” on HBO), Nzingha Stewart (Little Fires Everywhere – “The Uncanny” on Hulu), and Steve McQueen (Small Axe – “Mangrove” on Amazon ).

After the event, CBS Studios sent out a congratulatory Tweet for Culpepper.

Culpepper made a bit of Trek history when she was selected to helm the pilot for Picard, but in an essay written for Deadline last month after she was nominated, she says it didn’t occur to her at the time:

Two years ago, right about this time, pre-pandemic and pre-BLM summer, I got the call. Alex Kurtzman loved my vision and was entrusting me to guide the return of a beloved hero – Captain Picard. Today, I’m honored to be nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for the Star Trek: Picard pilot. When I got the job, I didn’t realize that I was the first Black director and first woman director to launch any Star Trek movie or series. Why? It never crossed my mind; I was too busy thinking about the work.

However, Culpepper also took note of Star Trek’s commitment to diversity and representation:

The Star Trek Universe’s commitment to diversity and representation is much more than a commitment to showcasing Black characters. Regardless of trends, Star Trek shows and movies have also contained characters of Asian, Hispanic and other underrepresented communities; Star Trek: Discovery currently features a prominent gay relationship among its storylines.

Star Trek: Lower Decks was also nominated for two awards, with the winners in animation being announced on Wednesday evening. Lower Decks lost out for Outstanding Animated Series to the Disney Junior series Doc McStuffins. Dawnn Lewis was nominated for her voice work as Captain Freeman, but lost out to Laya DeLeon Hayes from Doc McStuffins on Disney Junior.

A Star Trek Image Awards homecoming

2021 is a bit of a homecoming for Star Trek and the Image Awards. Star Trek: The Original Series won an award at the inaugural event in 1967 for its positive depictions of race relations in the future. It was at that event that Nichelle Nichols was famously convinced to stay on the show by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In her essay on Deadline from last month, Culpepper commented on the connection between Star Trek and the Image Awards:

Like the Star Trek series that came before, diversity and inclusivity were important to me and the producers. In fact, the NAACP Image Awards are an appropriate venue for honoring the Star Trek universe, because the franchise has been speaking to issues of diversity and representation for well over half a century.

Nichelle Nichols was later nominated for her role in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. This year’s three nominations are the first for the franchise since the 90s when Avery Brooks received two nominations for his work on Deep Space Nine and Alfre Woodard was nominated for her supporting role in Star Trek: First Contact.

In the clip below you can see Avery Brooks and Angela Bassett open up the 26th Image Awards in 1994.

Find more Star Trek Universe news and analysis at TrekMovie.com.

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Great news. Congratulations to Hanelle Culpepper.

The pilot for Picard was a great reintroduction to 24th Century to Trek so the award and recognition is well deserved.

Damn! She beat out Steve McQueen, that’s impressive.

Agreed, Little Axe is amazing. Still working through it. But…!

Glad for Hanelle Culpepper. Congratulations!

I absolutely love “Remembrance.” Congratulations to Mrs. Culpepper on a job well done!


I try very rarely to mention my race on these boards but I am SO proud to see a black director win for a Star Trek show! :)

I mean sure a black director was going to win something lol, but specifically for Star Trek is a great honor!

Sadly Picard as a show overall let me down so much but that first episode is still just incredible! This award is well earned IMO!

The first episodes of Picard were feature film quality and could have easily been released as a film to theaters. So I think Mrs Culpepper did an excellent job. This is well deserved. I think Akiva Goldsman should have taken a few pointers from her when he was directing the finale.

I absolutely love Avery Brooks. He’s got so much charisma and gravitas.

I don’t care much for Star Trek Picard and the charlatans who wrote it. I haven’t rewatched it and probably never will. As I recall though, the pilot was the best directed one, Hanelle seems very competent and my congratulations to her. However, when I consider how catastrophically poorly Picard was written (“but, but… Michael Chabon has won a Pulitzer”), it makes her achievement even better! She should win more awards thinking about it :)

I do think most of us can agree even if many thought Picard as a show was disappointing overall in first season, the opening episode was at least above average.

And I’m not here to convince you to give it another chance (it’s my LEAST favorite show out of the entire franchise ATM, so keep that in mind) but I do hope you at least give season 2 a chance. But yes, it can still suck.

First episode and Nepethe were the only ones I enjoyed. The rest were absolute trash.

Agreed. First episode came out of the gate strong, but then I think the season withered as it went along. I think all/most of us old schoolers loved Nepenthe, but otherwise I see no reason to watch season one again. Forgettable, and regrettable.

I really did love the first half but it did start to get very messy second half and a really bad ending. But yes Remembrance and Nepenthe were the highlights for sure.

I have to say that I liked the ending of Picard a lot better than the way any of Discovery’s seasons have ended so far (although season 3 was pretty good). What did you dislike about the Picard ending?

So much lol!

I’ve talked about it tons before, but to summarize:

-Not resolving the XB’s story line in any tangible way (or having a reason for them to be there).

-The bad cut and paste Starfleet ship scene. Embarrassing.

-And how did Starfleet get there so fast when the Romulans had a day head start on them???

-Turning Picard into Roob-Picard for no real reason.

-The generic beam in the sky ending that’s done so much in these shows and movies these days. They did it in the WandaVision finale as well.

-The eye rolling way another Soong just showed up when it was mentioned Noonien Soong not only never had a son, but a reason why he made Lore and Data was BECAUSE he didn’t have children in the first place. A lazy lazy retcon.

-Synths can conveniently do Vulcan Mind Melds for some reason. OK?

-The magical technology tool that can literally do anything apparently.

-The bizarre/conflicting story points throughout it like Picard telling Elnor he may never see him again (why????) but then Elnor shows at the village anyway. Or when Seven said she was going to stay and help the XB’s just to abandon(??) them and suddenly joins Picard’s crew. All of it was just so odd.

-The really awkward scene between Picard and Raffi when she tells him how she feels about him. It was played for (really bad) comic relief.

-What happened to Narak? Oh wait, I don’t really care. But still!

-Didn’t Dr. Jurati straight up kill a guy? And yet none of it is mentioned again at the end and she rides off in the sunset with the rest of the gang.

-Soji was apparently given a secret mission by Maddox to infiltrate the Borg cube. Can anyone remotely tell us what that was other than to be outed as a Synth and later get wiped out by the Romulans? Really bad mission it turns out.

-Synths just magically gets their rights back although an hour ago they tried to bring evil androids to the galaxy to wipe out all biological life.

It was just so much lazy plotting and really killed all the build up to it IMO. For the record, I did think it was better than Discovery’s first two really bad season finales as well. But the last one wasn’t so bad. But these guys just can’t seem to build a strong story arc and wrap them up in a consistent or logical way. They are either way convoluted (like DIS season 2) to the point you can find so many plot holes so big a galaxy class starship can fly through them or vaguely wrap the story up that leads tons of questions and not feel remotely satisfying (DIS and PIC season 1).

Another reason why I think people really enjoyed Lower Decks. It didn’t have any convoluted movie long story arcs and the season finale was very simple but super effective at the same time. And it was just thirty minutes. Both PIC and DIS basically had two hour season finales and they all ended so badly. But yes the season 3 one was the least bad, so that’s saying something ;)

Nice!! I agree with this post!


Yeah, it’s incredibly tough watching a franchise get ruined by writers who aren’t talented (at writing Trek/sci fi) and/or don’t care about the franchise. However, there are plenty of awful pre-2009 additions to the Trek tapestry, but a generally positive theme prevailed.

I can only hope that the hacks gather, read and follow the feedback to change direction and make season 2 better. I’ll at least keep an ear out for it, but won’t be surprised if my beloved Guinan ends up becoming a homicidal maniac. :’-(

Well, at least you’re mostly positive! ;D

I’m really not a fan of your personal attacks against the writers. They’re not charlatans (you’ve said this on other threads) and I think Michael Chabon does understand Star Trek.

Criticize the writing, not the writers.

So, would it kill you to just offer congratulations, and leave your Trek basing for another thread?
Asking for a friend.

I’m not Trek bashing (if you can call STP Trek), I’m just giving an accurate assessment of it, giving context to how Hanelle did brilliantly seeing as the writers and producers had absolutely no clue what they were doing.

Avery Brooks was great as Sisko!!! I’d totally love to see him in Picard.
Hanelle Culpepper did a great job.
Picard works if it fits into an overall strategy and that is a battle FOR Picard in Season Two hunted by the Borg given his now the ultimate tech (an AI equal to organic life). That would be a big mindblowing “ah-ha” moment I think that would elevate season one (especially all the Borg inclusion that had little to do with the main plot).
If they ignore that all and just made Picard an AI after dying a jerk (ditching friends, building the Romulan evacuation fleet programming robots to have emotions that they act as slaves, obsessing about Data to bring him back that he can commit suicide) for no reason then I don’t get it (but regardless the first episode was well directed).

Yeah, I’m fascinated to find out what the play with the Borg cube was/is. I don’t understand how the Romulans could lose their home system, which they apparently didn’t have the resources to evacuate without Starfleet’s help, yet can dedicate resources to turn a cube into a reclamation project.

Why did they have it as a setting for so many episodes without at least a few drones activating and assimilating… with the exception of the former drones, I think they only showed one up close for a few seconds. Did they run out of cash? How comes a plant can take out a cube? It’s just so odd.

I’d be up for Brooks, Whoopi and other alumni showing up… once the writers have shown a season of competence. I’m not saying great Trek, just say on par with season 6 of TNG or season 2 of DS9, solid but unremarkable. I can’t trust them with more great characters after what they did to Seven :-(

My hope/thought is that they are setting up the return of the Borg which has been waiting patiently for Data/Picard and the ability to go full AI.
What’s left of the unimind I assume would blame it’s failure not on itself or AI but the limitations of requiring organics for new knowledge/innovation. Really it makes sense, after you assimilate everyone you’d be stuck – the only solution for the Borg to be sustainable is now what Picard has (and something no one but V’ger/Decker have had before).
I’d go a step forward and say they’ve been playing 4D chess the whole time and have thought of Picard as Locutus, waiting for him.
Would that not make an epic Season Two, seeing what they’ve been longing for the Borg go all out to capture Picard and everyone trying to save him?

It’s funny, a video autoplayed on YouTube earlier of Star Trek fan theories and #1 was that the Borg have been farming the Federation for technology.

I would be amazed if they did something like this for STP season 2.

I think if you wanted to re-tooth and reinvigorate the Borg I think establishing they had a master plan this whole time farming the Fed for tech is the way to go.
I’d go a step further and say that they blame their defeat at 001 in BOBW on the limitations of their dependence on organically and that Fed research on AI they see as the key to moving past. The above should want AI as life, a uni mind of living androids, starships and holograms, no need for messy needy organics with limited time spans that need replacement
Their used to be talk of V’ger being fixed by the Borg homeworld, now have it where the Borg want to end up fleets of V’gers with full imagination and independence. They would be unstoppable.
Suddenly the obsession with Data becomes a master chess play.
This might fit in with Control too.
Some in the Fed might even want to give them the tech to end assimilation not realizing that our irrelevance would make us something simply to eliminate (or would they leave us alone given ultimate power – who knows?!?)

Just bugged me that all the people who put in amazing and ground breaking work during TNG and DS9 when Trek was actually being original got shafted, not a single director or actor won anything.

At least Avery Brooks was nominated twice.

It’s hard to understand this reward. Where starts direction ? Where does it stop ? Can we consider an average-below average script to be well directed ? Or does a good direction implies a good story ?
As for DIS, PIC was often very esthetic and sometimes theater quality. But scenario and story were below the line. At least for me.

Direction starts when the director is handed a locked down script. They meet with various department heads and tells them his or her vision for the episode. The fact that she won an award for what you considered to be an average script speaks to her talent as a director

Agreed, it takes a special kind of Director to make average scripts engaging!

If it helps; the way I usually think of it is like when you’re reading a book and you visualise the images in your head, based on the descriptions laid out on the page (whether it’s scene setting, characters etc.).

A director has to project those same mental images onto the screen in a way that they feel best tells the intended story, to an audience who have never had the benefit of reading it.

Effectively, they are narrating the story without using words…

The dialogue could be some of the most wooden and unimaginative ever written, but with the proper emphasis, a good storyteller (director) might be able to salvage it and still maintain your interest.

In the same way it’s often said that a trailer can sometimes make a poor film look great (or a great film look awful), I think the same is true for the relationship between director and script.

Of course, if the plot is an incoherent mess, the best director in the world probably couldn’t save it!

In this case, I believe that Hanelle Culpepper is being rewarded for the way in which she brought the story to LIFE, rather than for the actual content of the story itself.

You seem to indicate an appreciation for certain aspects of PIC (“… sometimes theatre quality”) so that suggests that you may have appreciated the work of Hanelle Culpepper (and the other directors) even if you weren’t a big fan of the writing.

Sorry for the long post, but hope it’s helpful.

Great post!

Thanks :)

I posted that there were Academy Award winners for Best Picture and Best Director (The Sound of Music, Titanic) that weren’t even nominated in the writing categories, so yes, it certainly is possible.

I’m not sure why my post was deleted.

Wonderful news. I really enjoyed Picard, despite some of its flaws. “Remembrance” is an episode I’ve rewatched several times. It’s a wonderful reintroduction to Picard and the 24th Century. There are moments, particularly when Picard is caring for Soji, that make me tear up. Picard was a fatherly figure for many, myself included. This episode leaned into that well.

Picard didn’t meet Soji until several episodes later.

I meant Dahj. My bad

NAACP? Why can’t we have a NAAWP for White people?


There is one, but you need a white hood and a burning cross to join.

There are several. The KKK. Proud Boys. Virtually every militia in middle America. Oathkeepers, etc, etc.
Come on, mods, trolling???


Fantastic that Culpepper’s work on those first three episodes was recognized.

However, the EPs didn’t show the same respect when they allowed the visual tone to vere around across the remaining episodes of Picard S1.

The pilot director is supposed to set the look for the series, and to me the inconsistency that followed shows a certain amount of “not putting their actions where their mouths are.” The organization didn’t show that they accepted and followed Culpepper’s directorial leadership.

I really hope Terry Matalas turns this around and brings the series back to the cinematic and grounded tone that Culpepper established.

I think that’s a very good summary of S1 of PIC. I agree that it could have been a much stronger season if the tone that was established early on had been maintained throughout.

Thinking of it as a relay race, Hanelle Culpepper got things off to a strong start but, once the baton was passed, things seemed a bit more… erratic.

Perhaps that’s to be expected for a show in its first season. It’s all subjective too, of course. I know there are people who really enjoyed PIC throughout (a couple of friends of mine included) but I do find myself in agreement with you here.

Like you, I’m hoping that S2 will be where PIC finds some consistency and really hits its stride. Fingers crossed…

You know these days I am increasingly finding the “its subjective” argument as an excuse for bad products. Somehow we are scared of saying when something is really bad. Sometimes something can be just bad without it being “subjective”.

Well, that’s definitely one way of looking at things.

I used the term here to acknowledge that my own personal feelings regarding flaws in the show were by no means shared by everyone who watched it.

I say this as there seems to be plenty of people who really enjoyed S1 of PIC. To them, it certainly wasn’t a “bad” show.

Like a lot of recent shows, PIC seems to have really split opinions. Those who disliked it seem to feel quite strongly about that, but so to do those who enjoyed it. I probably fit somewhere in between myself.

We’re all watching the same show at the end of the day, so it seems pretty clear that we each have different expectations and our own interpretations of what we’re watching, and perhaps appreciate (or not) different aspects of it too.

Personally, I’m happy to say what I did or did not enjoy/appreciate about a particular show, but I don’t really like speaking too definitively as I’m just one voice in the crowd (and by no means an expert on the subject matter).

I actually think PIC is a pretty good example of how perceived quality can be subjective.

I respect your point-of-view though, and that you clearly know your own mind and what you do and don’t like. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Congratulations to Hanelle Culpepper!
That is great news!

Congratulations to Hanelle Culpepper!!

Haven’t actually seen the other nominated shows for a comparison, but felt that “Remembrance” did a strong job of bringing the universe of PIC to life. I was really excited for the rest of the season after that opening episode.

The show never quite lived up to that early promise IMO, but the opening laid some solid foundations.

I really like that quote too: “… I was too busy thinking about the work”. The attitude of a dedicated professional. Pleased that her hard work has been rewarded.

Fantastic Director! Congratulations!

I had some problems with Star Trek: Picard, but none of those problems were caused by Ms. Culpepper’s directing, which was fabulous. In my opinion, this win is very well deserved, and I really hope we’ll be seeing more from her in the future.

Congratulations, Hanelle Culpepper!