Ava DuVernay took home the top prize of the night at the NAACP Image Awards.

The 45-year-old director scooped the Entertainer of the Year gong at the ceremony at Pasadena's Civic Auditorium on Monday night (15.01.18), beating off competition from Jay-Z, Issa Rae, Chance the Rapper, Chadwick Boseman and Bruno Mars.

Upon collecting the prize from the stage, she told the audience: ''What is going on? I'm a director - I shouldn't be up here.

''There's a lot of darkness in this world but tonight I feel the warmth on me and I appreciate it.

''You know why because I'm in a room with all of these dynamic artists.

''I just want to remind you that you, the audience, we love you. Artists, we talk about you all the time, we're constantly trying to figure out what you like and how to serve you.''

Ava then began thanking various stars for bringing their shows and movies to light, and started to get emotional as she referenced Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous 'I Have a Dream' speech from the 1963 Civil Rights rally.

She added: ''This is our time. We can say we were here when all this gorgeous art was happening, that we supported it and that we lifted each other up.

''That we did as Dr. King said we would do, 'Live the dream.' ''

Sitcom 'black-ish' was also a big winner on the night, taking home the Outstanding Comedy Series accolade, and its leading stars Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson won the Outstanding Actress and Actor in a Comedy prizes respectively.

'Empire' star Taraji P. Henson won the equivalent actress gong in the drama category, while the actor award went to Power's Omari Hardwick.

'Power' also took home its own prize, winning Outstanding Drama Series, while Daniel Kaluuya won Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for 'Get Out'.

He said afterwards: ''I don't think you're allowed to beat Denzel Washington in acting competitions.

''So many people didn't believe in me, and you did, and you made all of us feel included. Thank you so much for letting us be seen.''

The NAACP Image Awards 2018 winners list:

Entertainer of the Year: Ava DuVernay

Outstanding Motion Picture: Girls Trip

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Outstanding Drama Series: Power

NAACP President's Award: Danny Glover

NAACP Chairman's Awards: William Lucy

Outstanding Comedy Series: black-ish

Music Makes a Difference Honor: Charlie Wilson

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: Omari Hardwick, Power

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series: Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series: Taraji P. Henson, Empire

Outstanding Actor Comedy Series: Anthony Anderson, black-ish

Outstanding Actress Motion Picture: Octavia Spencer, Gifted