Tracee Ellis Ross: Rachel Dolezal "Isn't Funny Anymore" After Charleston

Tracee Ellis Ross - H 2015
AP Images

Tracee Ellis Ross - H 2015

The BET Awards co-host and 'Black-ish' star celebrated at a pre-party hosted by network chairman/CEO Debra Lee, who promised the June 28 show will acknowledge "black lives matter" in the wake of the tragedy.

In advance of the BET Awards, set for Sunday June 28 at Los Angeles’ downtown venue L.A. Live, talent and execs gathered June 24 at a reception to mark the award show’s 15th anniversary, but also to reflect on what has been a strange and difficult month for black Americans.

At the annual pre-event party dubbed PRE, hosted by BET Chairman and CEO Debra Lee and held at the Sunset Tower Hotel, BET awards co-host and Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross offered a preview of her and co-host Anthony Anderson’s emcee plans in the form of what viewers likely won’t see during the telecast.

On the subject of the year’s strangest story about race self-identication — the Rachel Dolezal controversy — Ross told THR, “She’s just not that funny now after what happened in Charleston. The day those people were murdered, it stopped being a funny story.”

This isn’t to say the duo will shy away from poking fun at personalities in the room. “But I leave that to Anthony,” said Ross. “He’s a standup comedian and is just better at that stuff. My comedy is usually about making fun of myself!”

Guests at PRE– who also included former BET Awards host and actress/musician Queen Latifah, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, Oscar-winning actor Lou Gossett Jr., American Crime actor Elvis Nolasco, actress Garcelle Beauvais, Furious 7 star Tyrese Gibson and BET president of programming Stephen Hill – were treated to a performance by singer Andra Day, whose Rihanna-meets-Amy Winehouse spin on soul and R&B had the crowd dancing as they sipped champagne and noshed on risotto and chicken sliders. (Her melodious cover of Biggie Smalls’ “Big Poppa” was a particular favorite.)

Lee offered a quick thank-you speech at the festivities, which included a light-hearted admonition about the busy few days ahead. “I hope you’re all taking your vitamins because it’s going to be a long weekend.”

She told THR the BET Awards carry a particular import this year for their viewers. “We want to celebrate music, which is what the show has always been about,” she said. “But there will also be moments where we acknowledge Charleston and that black lives matter.”

The BET Awards air live on June 28 at 8 p.m. and feature performances by Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar and Robin Thicke among others, with Janet Jackson receiving the show's Inaugural Ultimate Icon: Music Dance Visual Award.