The embattled television star was nominated for best supporting actor in a television drama for his role as Jamal Lyon on the Fox series but was edged out by "Grey's Anatomy" star Jesse Williams, ABC reported.
Smollett has been nominated for the award four years in a row and won in 2017.
The award was handed out during the untelevised portion of the show Friday night.
The televised portion will air Saturday night.
Leading up to the event, NAACP Image Awards host and actor Anthony Anderson said in light of the charges against Smollett being dropped, he hopes the "Empire" actor will win for his work on the show.
“I hope he wins," Anderson told Variety magazine on Wednesday. "I’m happy for him that the system worked for him in his favor because the system isn’t always fair, especially for people of color.”
Smollett has been in the middle of a firestorm for weeks in Chicago.
He is accused of staging an anti-gay, racist attack on himself in January in order to promote his career. He has denied the charges from the start and says two men approached him, beat him, threw bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck before shouting, "This is MAGA country," in reference to President Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."
"I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’m accused of," Smollett said.
Smollett's co-star Taraji P. Henson, who plays his mother on "Empire", told USA Today that she's "happy that the truth has finally been set free, because I knew it all along."
The surprise decision to drop charges on Tuesday, followed by Smollett's claims of innocence, has nonetheless prompted an immediate rebuke from Chicago's mayor and police superintendent.
The decision also put pressure on the state's attorney's office.
On Friday night, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said she is open to an outside investigation into her office’s dramatic decision to dismiss all charges.