BET Awards Preview: Nipsey Hussle Tribute and a Showcase of "Black Excellence"
"We're showcasing the best and the most excellent of the black experience, but it's for the world. It's black excellence, but it's excellence, period," BET exec Connie Orlando said.
On Sunday at Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, BET will celebrate nominees including Michael B. Jordan, Issa Rae, Denzel Washington, Cardi B and more at its 19th annual BET Awards.
Since the first BET Awards show aired in 2001, BET has sought to celebrate the best and the brightest of black talent in television, film and music. The annual event has brought about numerous memorable moments, including performances by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and Nicki Minaj, as well as tribute performances for Prince, Whitney Houston and more.
It's these moments that touch, surprise and inspire people that keep the show engaging and fresh, BET executive vp and head of programming Connie Orlando tells The Hollywood Reporter.
"We always challenge ourselves to get bigger and better with every year that comes," Orlando says. "I think everyone looks forward to these moments that you can't get anywhere else."
Hosting this year's BET Awards will be Regina Hall, who is also in the running for the night's best actress award. When it comes to finding a host for the awards show, Orlando says she looks for someone who's funny, who can carry a show and who can deal with the pressure of being live — and the Little and Shaft actress fits the bill.
"We could not have picked a better choice for this year," Orlando says.
While Orlando was hesitant to reveal too much about what's in store for the show, she did tease an opening number along with an emphasis on comedy overall for the night.
Meanwhile, as previously announced, Sunday's award show will feature performances by Lizzo, Cardi B, Migos and more. Of the night's performances, Orlando said she's looking forward to watching Lil Nas X perform "Old Town Road" alongside Billy Ray Cyrus, since it will be the duo's first time performing on television.
The night will also honor Tyler Perry with the icon award, Mary J. Blige with the lifetime achievement award, Chakabars with the global good award and Nipsey Hussle with a posthumous humanitarian award.
The BET Awards will celebrate and honor the late rapper with a tribute featuring performances by DJ Khaled, YG and John Legend, who were some of Hussle's close collaborators, Orlando says.
Honoring the deceased rapper at the Sunday night awards show, Orlando says, will help BET carry on his message and his legacy.
"A big part of BET Awards is that we celebrate past, present and future of black music, but we also elevate the culture and we use BET Awards to drive and force social change — and Nipsey Hussle was all of that," she adds. "We’re showcasing the best and the most excellent of the black experience, but it’s for the world. It’s black excellence, but it’s excellence, period."