For hosts Roy Wood Jr. and Sheryl Underwood, being at TheGrio Awards is like being at a family reunion

OPINION: The show's hosts Roy Wood Jr. and Sheryl Underwood were thrilled to reunite with so many friends and to meet new ones.

Mariah Carey, Don Cheadle, Misty Copeland, Dr. Kizzmekia S Corbett-Helaire, Tamron Hall, Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Eddie Murphy, Al Sharpton and Denzel Washington, TheGrio Awards, TheGrio Awards 2023,
Sheryl Underwood and Roy Wood Jr. host the 2nd Annual theGrio Awards at The Beverly Hilton on October 21, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for theGrio)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

One of the most exciting things about being at TheGrio Awards — I mean like being in the room where the show is held — is that there’s a whole family reunion vibe going on. TheGrio Awards bring together stars from all over the map. You walk through that room and you see everybody. There’s the Rock, there’s Tiffany Haddish, there’s Misty Copeland, there’s a congresswoman or a famous singer or … 

That family cookout energy is what the show’s hosts, veteran comedians Roy Wood Jr. and Sheryl Underwood, told me was their favorite aspect of the whole night. Wood told me he could feel, “the love and the energy in the room.” You know when Black folks get dressed up and get together with people they love and people they have admired from afar, it’s gonna be a beautiful night.

When Wood and Underwood came through the post-show to talk to me, I asked them, “What was your favorite part of the night?” Wood said, “Being able to meet Eddie Murphy. I never met Eddie Murphy.” That’s surprising to me. Wood has been an elite comic for years. I would think that he and Murphy would’ve rubbed shoulders someplace — maybe they met at some comedy thing or a party somewhere but, no, it took TheGrio Awards to finally bring them together. “I ain’t never been in the same room as Eddie Murphy. So to grow up seeing this person and then being part of a night where they’re honoring him …” He was so excited to finally shake Murphy’s hand that Wood had to kinda fight to keep it together.

TheGrio Awards

Underwood felt the same. “Denzel kissed me on both my cheeks,” she said, gushing like a fan. She said she wasn’t going to take off her makeup for “50-eleven days” because of that kiss. That sort of family reunion vibe was happening all over the room at TheGrio Awards. “You get to talk to Mariah Carey,” Underwood said. “You get to talk to Patti LaBelle. You get to talk to Jennifer Hudson, Boyz II Men, Coco Jones … This is a family community award show where we really are all rooting for each other.” I always love those “I’m rooting for everybody Black” moments.

Underwood also found TheGrio Awards to be a reunion in another way. She’s been friends with theGrio’s owner Byron Allen for decades. He was instrumental in getting her career sparked back when Underwood was an up-and-coming comic. 

“Byron Allen,” Underwood said, “you know, he has the vision. When he brought me on ‘Comics Unleashed,’ nobody really knew who I was. But to be working in this business long enough to host something as dignified and iconic as theGrio Awards, I’m just thankful and I hope this is many more years to come.”

Stars get starstruck, too, y’all. But Black starstruck is a little different. When Wood talks about Eddie Murphy and Underwood talks about Denzel Washington or Byron Allen, they’re talking about people who inspired them. People who opened doors for them. People who made them feel like they could achieve their dreams. People who gave them wings. That’s why they love doing theGrio Awards so much.

Watch TheGrio Awards 2023 on Feb. 9 starting at 8 p.m. ET. Download theGrio app now to watch on demand or check your local cable listings for TheGrio.


Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of Masters of the Game on theGrioTV. He is also the host and creator of the docuseries podcast “Being Black: The ’80s” and the animated show “Star Stories with Toure” which you can find at He is also the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is the author of eight books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter.

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