Washington picked up the trophy for outstanding actress in a drama series for "Scandal" at Saturday's 45th annual ceremony, while Nyong'o was selected as outstanding supporting actress in a motion picture for "12 Years a Slave."
"It's been a historical year in film for all of us in this room, and I'm so proud to be a part of that history," Nyong'o said. "It's such an honor to be recognized for a film that has meant so much to so many people, a film that has inspired discourse long overdue."
Other early winners at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium included "Scandal" as outstanding drama series, "Steve Harvey" as outstanding talk show and David Oyelowo as outstanding supporting actor for "Lee Daniels' The Butler."
"Thank you America for embracing me," the British actor said. "I'm one of those guys with the funny accent."
Several winners were previously announced, including Kevin Hart as outstanding actor in a comedy series for "Real Husbands of Hollywood," along with John Legend as outstanding male artist and Beyonce as outstanding female artist.
The awards are presented annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the civil rights group's members select the winners.
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