On Sunday, black women
were right where they needed to be: on top, slaying the game, and receiving the flowers they deserved at the 2021 BET Awards
The night was intentionally dedicated to uplifting and celebrating Black women, from multifaceted icon Queen Latifah
receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award to Megan Thee Stallion
’s dynamic “Thot S**t” performance to Lauren London
honoring Darnella Frazier
, who was only 17 when she filmed George Floyd
The theme for this year's awards, hosted by actor Taraji P. Henson, was "The Year of the Black Woman." Henson told Stardia ahead of the show that she is honored to be hosting the award show with such a powerful theme.
“Like Malcolm X said, we were the most disrespected, neglected, and unappreciated, and tonight on BET, what we're going to do is uplift all the queens,” she said.
Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Issa Rae
, Jazmine Sullivan
, Zendaya, and other Black women celebrities
sat in the front row at the show, which took place at the Microsoft Theater
in Los Angeles
. Henson honored those in attendance with flowers, as well as those who were unable to attend, including Naomi Osaka
, who was recognized for advocating for her mental health
“Look at us. Look around the room. Look at this power. The grace, the class, the edges, we are everything honey. Celebrating Black women isn’t a fad or a trend, it’s a forever mood,” Henson said to the audience. “And there is more than enough room for all of us to thrive. Because nobody can be me like me and nobody can be you like you.”
“Tonight, we’re also reclaiming our aesthetics, baby hairs, long blinged-out nails, yeah, we’re taking all of that back, gold hoops, bamboo earrings... Our Black men, we want all of y’all back, because we love you, we see you, kings, and most importantly, we need you.”
Here are some of the most memorable scenes from the show on Sunday night.
Cardi B's pregnancy
announcement came as a complete surprise.
' performance of "Type S**t," on which Cardi appears, the Bronx rapper announced that she and Offset were expecting their second child
. She wore a custom Dolce & Gabbana bodysuit with a mesh cutout showing her baby bump.
Taraji P. Henson dressed up as some of her favorite African-American women.
Throughout the show, Henson paid tribute to people
like Diana Ross
, Tina Turner, H.E.R., and Erykah Badu by wearing outfits inspired by Black women who have inspired her. She put on her acting hat and channeled some of her alter egos to pay tribute to these women.
Darnella Frazier was given the Shine A Light Award by Lauren London.
Darnella Frazier, who recorded ex-cop Derek Chauvin
as he suffocated George Floyd, was announced as the winner of the Shine A Light Award by the actor, who has been selective in her public appearances since Nipsey Hussle's death
“Sometimes in life, it only takes one person to demonstrate that we play a significant role in receiving the accountability we deserve; she didn’t set out to change the world, she set out to do what was right,” London told the audience.
One-woman band performance by H.E.R.
H.E.R. put her musicianship on display, not only performing her single "We Made It," but also playing the drums and electric guitar during her set, which was also her birthday on Sunday.
In her acceptance speech, she emphasized the significance of the BET Awards, saying, “I just want you guys to know how important this stage is, I want you guys to know how important it is to recognize and celebrate each other.”
Megan Thee Stallion takes home the big prize and pays tribute to her late mother.
On Sunday, she won Best Female Hip-Hop Artist, Video of the Year with Cardi B for "WAP," and Viewers Choice Award with Beyoncé for "Savage (Remix
During her acceptance speech for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist, Megan paid tribute to her mother, who died in 2019 just as Megan's star was rising, and said her mother is the reason she started rapping. "She can't be here with me today, but I still think about her every day and she is the reason why I keep going," she told the audience.
A royal tribute is presented to Queen Latifah.
BET honored the actor-rapper-producer-mogul with the night's highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, and she received long-overdue flowers for her impact
, particularly on Black women. MC Lyte, Rapsody, Lil' 'Kim, and Monie Love took the stage to perform "Ladies First" and "U.N.I.T.Y." before Queen accepted her award.
“I want to thank BET for creating an outlet for beautiful blackness to thrive, to shine, when we couldn’t get our videos played on the radio and other places,” she said, adding, “We couldn’t get our videos played in other places; there was BET that allowed us to be in our fullness and to shine.”
The sultry performance of Jazmine Sullivan and Ari Lennox
The two incredible vocalists performed "On It," from Sullivan's latest project, "Heaux Tales," for the first time live.
Sullivan, whose performance began with a “reclaiming my time” moment from Maxine Waters herself, also won a big award later in the night, receiving Album of the Year, and she brought her mother onstage to accept the award with her, opening up about her journey with breast cancer
“My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, so we didn’t see any of this happening, but God has been so faithful to us, and my mom is in remission,” Sullivan said. “This is my prize. This is my gift. It means more to me than anything that she’s here with me. She supported me my entire life.”