The BET Awards are solely 20 years previous, imagine it or not, a milestone that the ceremony will attain with this Sunday’s ceremony. In simply 20 years, the celebration of Black music and tradition has turn out to be a gentle rankings draw (No. 1 in cable for the night), a prestigious honor for entertainers, and an area the place main stars can shine alongside acts beloved to Black audiences who may be lesser recognized within the mainstream. Not like the Grammys or Emmys, the BET Awards is one in all few ceremonies for achievement the place Black entertainers, athletes, actors, and cultural influencers needn’t fear they’d be ignored due to the make-up of the voting physique; on the BET Awards, individuals throughout the tradition resolve who’s most match to obtain one. (And sure, Karen, white individuals do get and win them; as WaterCoolerConvos points out, more white people got nominated for BET Awards in 2015 than Black people go nominated for Oscars.)
Over time, viewers have seen epic moments together with an on-stage assembly between Michael Jackson and James Brown, in addition to a number of mind-blowing performances from Beyoncé. This yr’s ceremony, nonetheless, takes on particular significance: produced remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic and occurring amid the most important civil rights motion in historical past following protests over George Floyd’s murder, the 2020 BET Awards tackle a number of layers of resonance its organizers have stored prime of thoughts since Day 1.
“There was not ever a time once I considered not doing [the show],” Connie Orlando, an government vice chairman at BET who heads up specials, music programming and music technique on the community, informed TV Information. (BET, like TV Information, is a part of ViacomCBS.) “I simply knew we might do the present. That is a very powerful BET Awards ever.” Music, she mentioned, has all the time been integral in Black activism, and with the Black Lives Matter motion at report ranges of approval from Americans across social and party lines, a protracted custom of marrying leisure and activism was the North Star for creating this yr’s program.
The prerecorded present, hosted by Insecure star Amanda Seales, will characteristic performances by Alicia Keys, Chloe x Halle, DaBaby, Jennifer Hudson, Megan Thee Stallion, and extra — filmed all, in fact, in separate places underneath excessive warning. Orlando mentioned that underneath the advisement of a ViacomCBS COVID-19 activity drive, in addition to federal, state, and native rules and union pointers, performers recorded themselves in a wide range of setups. There’s no less than one mini-movie, a stage efficiency, a efficiency in an outside house, and materials shot from performers’ dwelling. “However, not simply on their sofa. They went all out. It is a ravishing present, and I believe you will be shocked on the epic-ness of what they put collectively.” She mentioned Black Lives Matter was inherently baked into this system, whether or not by means of artists’ work or their messages, however declined to say if viewers would see BLM-themed materials within the present, solely hinting, “We now have a number of tips up our sleeve.” One “trick” could also be an look from Queen Bey; BET introduced Friday that the artist-activist will obtain its Humanitarian Award, all however guaranteeing that she’ll grace our screens along with her presence sooner or later in the course of the present.
This yr’s program marks one other large second for the BET Awards: for the primary time, the ceremony will air on a serious broadcast community, CBS, because it airs on BET. As Billboard points out, this type of synergy is overdue; the Nation Music Assn. Awards and the Academy of Nation Music Awards have aired on legacy networks repeatedly for many years. Orlando mentioned she was glad in regards to the partnership and potential for extra individuals to see the present. “I hope individuals stroll away entertained, and see that the BET Awards is a spectacular present for individuals who love music, tradition, surprises and enjoyable.”
See all this yr’s nominees and introduced performers here.
The 2020 BET Awards will air Sunday, June 28 at 8/7c on BET, BET Her, and CBS.