I’m pretty sure BET was amongst those of us who wistfully declared, “2020 is going to be my year.”
Why BET? Well, because this year marks the 20th anniversary of the BET Awards and is the 40th anniversary of the network itself (the latter of which lent itself to a tribute to BET co-founder Bob Johnson). However, just like it did with our travel and other best-life plans, Da ‘rona decided to put a kibosh on what I imagine would’ve been an enormous star-studded event at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
We really were “all in this together” in the sense that every single one of us (from the press, to celebs, to viewers alike) attended the ceremony, which was held virtually this year, from the comfort of our homes. As the network said, “the culture can’t be canceled,” so the show did, indeed, go on. The show aired on BET but was also simulcast on CBS this year.
Amanda Seales had the task of hosting the show and bringing the energy without an audience. She leaned right into the nostalgic feel of BET, making references to oldies such as Rap City, did the typical host costume changes (and background changes, thanks to green screen) and threw in some shady jokes.
I have to give a shoutout to the elite production design, which really made us all miss seeing music videos on television like back in the day.
Performers included YG, Public Enemy (yes, with Flava Flav!), Nas, Rapsody, Black Thought, Questlove, John Legend, D Smoke, SiR, Megan Thee Stallion (who gave us “Mad Thee Max” energy), Da Baby, Jennifer Hudson (her performance was very American Bandstand-esque and she followed it with the teaser trailer for Respect), Wayne Brady (with a Little Richard tribute), Alicia Keys, Chloe x Halle (who have been given us elite lockdown performances, so they’re the prototype, to be honest!), Karen Clark, Kierra Sheard and we even got a little country with Kane Brown.
Naturally, the entire show was Black Lives Matter-themed, with advertisement spots, performances, monologues, speeches and everything in between, making sure the message was heard.
Big winners of the night included Roddy Ricch (Album of the Year - Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial), Megan Thee Stallion (Best Female Hip Hop Artist and Viewers’ Choice Award along with Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign), Da Baby (Best Male Hip Hop Artist), Lizzo (Best Female R&B/Pop Artist) and Marsai Martin (who looks adorable with her blond hair, won the Young Stars Award).
DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle and John Legend won Video of the Year for “Higher.” Michael B. Jordan and Issa Rae took home the Best Actor and Best Actress awards, respectively.
“I am here to talk about the Queen. You know the one,” Michelle “Forever FLOTUS” Obama said as she introduced Beyoncé Knowles Carter for the 2020 Humanitarian Award. Following the introduction spot, BET showed a montage summarizing Bey’s charity, including her philanthropic efforts through BeyGood.
“Be the change you want to see,” Bey concluded during her acceptance speech.
Bey also dropped the teaser trailer for her Black Is King film, which is coming exclusively to Disney+ on July 31.
Black folks often feel like a broken record when we’re constantly asking mainstream media to see us and hear our voices, however that same sentiment is true of our LGBTQ+ community members, as well. We’ve already seen this happen at the NAACP Image Awards, but Angelica Ross had to reiterate on Sunday afternoon that Black trans voices are constantly erased and silenced. Not only is the neglect extra apparent when it’s done by your own people, but we can’t ignore the fact that the ceremony typically happens during Pride Month, so the special spotlight should be a given...and given in a space where members of the LGBTQ community will feel safe and welcomed.
We really have a lot of work to do internally, and it will only happen if we keep our voices loud and heard.
‘Til next year. Hopefully, we’ll be back to regularly scheduled red carpets and stadium venues. We’ll see! To view the complete list of winners at the 2020 BET Awards, head to BET.com.