The show must go on. BET Networks is moving forward with its awards show on Sunday, June 28, although this year don't expect the usual crowd: the event will be remote due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Scott Mills, president of BET, said the network made the decision to go ahead with the awards ceremony months ago, as the first wave of the pandemic brought the country to a standstill.
"When we made the decision in April to proceed with the show, we actually made the decision because we understood as the single, largest event on television celebrating Black culture, celebrating Black accomplishment, celebrating the Black community, and celebrating Black excellence, that now more than ever it was so important to ensure that show went forward."
Now, the awards ceremony finds itself scheduled in the midst of another major movement affecting the Black community. Protesters have been marching for weeks against systemic racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd in late May.
"The show has always been a platform not only to entertain but also to shine a light on those in our community who are working hard to drive change," Mills said.
Just last year, the BET Awards honored the Central Park Five, the Exonerated 5 -- men who served time for rape after they were wrongfully convicted.
This year, Mills is clear: Sunday's event will not be hampered just because everyone is not in the same room. Expect powerful performances and inspiring speeches as the award ceremony celebrates its 20th anniversary and BET Networks marks its 40th anniversary.
"It's a pretty amazing milestone and it's happening at the most incredible time in this country where we have these two plagues impacting specifically the African American community: the disproportionate of COVID-19 on our community and the over 400-year legacy of racism in this country," Mills said.
The BET Awards will be hosted by comedian Amanda Seales, featuring performances from Alicia Keys, Lil Wayne, and Jennifer Hudson.
As the first awards ceremony of the coronavirus age, BET is creating the blueprint for award shows to follow, as big events look to take a more remote approach.
"The great thing is the show's really anchored in celebrating the most extraordinary, successful, talented, creative people in our culture; and the stage while in many ways is a platform, a stage is a constraint," Mills said. "When we said to all of this talent, well the one thing we are not going to do is to have everyone perform on the Microsoft stage in LA, the talent actually responded 'Great, we can bring a whole, fresh set of creative approaches to executing on this."
The BET Awards will air June 28 at 8 pm ET/PT on BET and will make its network broadcast premiere on CBS.