This year the BET Awards were filled with exciting moments that pushed the envelope further than the award show has done in recent years. The ceremony was hosted by actress Taraji P. Henson who helped assert this year’s theme of the “Year of the Black Woman.”
With the award show falling on the last weekend of Pride Month, Black entertainers who belong to the LGBTQ+ community were spotlighted during the ceremony. In the past, the network and the award show have been called to the carpet over its erasure of Black LGBTQ+ voices, but Sunday’s award show made an effort to move the needle in acknowledging the different layers of the Black experience.
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B. Scott returned to the BET Awards red carpet after a documented legal battle with the network that began in 2013. Scott, a trans, non-binary blogger, and host claimed the network told them “to pull my hair back, asked me to take off my makeup, made me change my clothes and prevented me from wearing a heel,” directly after their first interview during a 106 & Park pre-show. Scott returned to the carpet but was forced to wear an outfit BET deemed more acceptable. On Sunday Scott shared behind-the-scenes footage en route to the awards show.
During his highly anticipated performance, Lil Nas X paid tribute to Michael Jackson‘s Egyptian-themed “Remember The Time” music video during his performance of “Call Me by Your Name.” The performance ended with Nas kissing one of his male backup dancers to which the crowd roared and cheered.
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Unfortunately, Nas had to go on Twitter to address the performance, where homophobia often runs rampant.
But aside from the haters, there were more people who praised the rapper for his creativity and for remaining true to himself.
Rapper, singer, and actress Queen Latifah was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, a trailblazer in her own right for slaying across several different industries for four decades. Latifah’s tribute included performances from other rap queens like Monie Love, Rapsody, MC Lyte, and Lil’ Kim. During her emotional acceptance speech, Latifah honored her mother who died in 2018, by holding her photo while standing close to her father on the stage. At the end of her speech, Latifah thanked her longtime partner and their son for their love and support.
“Eboni, my love, Rebel, my love,” she said in her shoutout. “Peace, happy Pride.”
And “Pose” star MJ Rodriguez was one of the presenters of the night, walking out to her new single, “Something To Say,” co-written by Earth, Wind & Fire’s legendary bassist Verdine White.
But there was no way that a Black award show could go on without acknowledging the year of uprisings across the country in response to the repeated killings of Black community members at the hands of police.
Darnella Frazier, the 18-year-old who cemented her place in history
Auntie Maxine Waters made an appearance where she voiced she was “Reclaiming her time,” handing off the mike to a sultry performance by Jazmine Sullivan. Sullivan’s latest single “Tragic” samples the legendary phrase where Waters went viral during a tense exchange with former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in 2017 during the House Financial Services Committee hearing.
Sullivan was later joined by Ari Lennox to perform their duet “Sit On It,” off of Sullivan’s EP “Heaux Tales.” The project snagged the Album of the Year award at the ceremony. During her acceptance speech, Sullivan thanked her mother who is in remission from breast cancer, for her love and support throughout her career.
Other big moments of the night belonged to artists and winners like Cardi B, who revealed she’s pregnant with a bedazzled jumper that showed off her baby bump. The rapper announced her first pregnancy with her daughter Kulture during her Saturday Night Live debut in 2018 so Sunday’s reveal was equally fitting. Her single “WAP” which featured Megan Thee Stallion took home the award for video of the year and best collaboration.
Megan was a big winner of the night, securing four awards including best female hip-hop artist.
Actress Andra Day took home the best actress award for her Oscar-nominated role in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” while Chadwick Boseman posthumously won best actor for his electric performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
For a complete list of the night’s winners, click here.