The actor/singer, who portrays musician Jamal Lyon on the hit hip-hop drama, will be one of eight recipients of the Chairman's Award, which is presented in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service, reports Deadline.com.

Smollett has been an active campaigner for civil rights, HIV and AIDS awareness, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues since his teens.

The 32-year-old is in for a big night at the 5 February (16) ceremony in California as Empire is also shortlisted for an impressive 12 nods, including Outstanding Drama Series and acting nominations for Smollett and his co-stars Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, and Grace Gealey.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards are designed to celebrate the best in black culture.