The BET Awards went virtual this year, delivering a polished and powerful experience despite being planned entirely over Zoom. The ceremony honored Black excellence in the entertainment world, presenting awards in categories like humanitarian work, athletic achievement and artistic feats. The award show also proved that this time around, the revolution will be televised.

Beyoncé Wins the Humanitarian Award

One of the highlights of the night was Beyoncé winning an award honoring her years of humanitarian work. Presenting the award, former First Lady Michelle Obama said, “To my girl, I just want to say you inspire me…You inspire all of us.” Beyoncé had invested time, money, and passion to the community, notably through her BeyGood initiative. The organization offers scholarship programs and helps fund countless social justice foundations. BeyGood has also been involved with widespread COVID-19 testing, especially in underserved Black communities. In her acceptance speech, Beyoncé sent a strong message to Black Americans when she said, “Your voices are being heard and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain. Now we have one more thing we need to do to walk in our true power and that is to vote. I’m encouraging you to continue to take action. Continue to change and dismantle the racist and unequal system.” The musician and activist concluded her speech with a call to action. “We have to vote like our life depends on it,” she implored fans. “Because it does.”

A Ceremony with A Message

This year’s BET Awards were not just about entertainment and spectacle. It was explicitly political. Given the national (and international) movement to end police brutality and demand racial justice, this year’s ceremony struck a more serious tone. The show opened, not with a glitzy performance or comedic monologue, but with a powerful message against hate and racism. The 12-year-old Keedrom Bryant sang his viral piece “I Just Wanna Live.” The end of the song was immediately followed by images of Black Lives Matter protests and a performance of “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, Nas, Rapsody, YG, and Black Thought. Connie Orlando, who produced the show, had forewarned that this year’s ceremony would break the mold. “This was going to be our biggest show ever,” she said, “not because of the anniversaries, but because of what’s going on.” The show struck a wonderful balance between celebrating achievement, and acknowledging the struggles of the Black community. “We’ve always found a way to continue to celebrate our culture,” executive producer Jeannae Rouzan-Clay said of this year’s show. “In the middle of the performances that are fun and celebratory, we remind you of the things that are going on within our community that we need to be aware of and that we need to make sure that people take seriously.”

2020 Winners

In an industry so saturated with talent, there were some tough choices this year. Here are the nominees and the winners from the main categories.

Album of the Year

  • “Cuz I Love You,” Lizzo
  • “Fever,” Megan Thee Stallion
  • “Homecoming: The Live Album,” Beyoncé
  • “I Used to Know Her,” H.E.R.
  • “Kirk,” DaBaby
  • “Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial,” Roddy Ricch – WINNER

Best Female R&B/Pop Artist

  • Beyoncé
  • H.E.R.
  • Jhene Aiko
  • Kehlani
  • Lizzo – WINNER
  • Summer Walker

Best Male R&B/Pop Artist

  • Anderson .Paak
  • Chris Brown – WINNER
  • Jacquees
  • Khalid
  • The Weeknd
  • Usher

Best Group

  • Chloe x Halle
  • City Girls
  • EarthGang
  • Griselda
  • JACKBOYS
  • Migos – WINNER

Best Collaboration

  • Chris Brown Ft. Drake, “No Guidance” – WINNER
  • DJ Khaled ft. Nipsey Hussle & John Legend, “Higher”
  • Future ft. Drake, “Life Is Good”
  • H.E.R. ft. YG, “Slide”
  • Megan Thee Stallion ft. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign, “Hot Girl Summer”
  • Wale ft. Jeremih, “On Chill”

Best Male Hip Hop Artist

  • DaBaby – WINNER
  • Drake
  • Future
  • Lil Baby
  • Roddy Ricch
  • Travis Scott

Best Female Hip Hop Artist

  • Cardi B
  • Doja Cat
  • Lizzo
  • Megan Thee Stallion – WINNER
  • Nicki Minaj
  • Saweetie

Video of the Year

  • Chris Brown Ft. Drake, “No Guidance”
  • DaBaby, “Bop”
  • DJ Khaled ft. Nipsey Hussle & John Legend, “Higher” – WINNER
  • Doja Cat, “Say So”
  • Megan Thee Stallion ft. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign, “Hot Girl Summer”
  • Roddy Ricch, “The Box”

Video Director of the Year

  • Benny Boom
  • Cole Bennett
  • Dave Meyers
  • Director X
  • Eif Rivera
  • Teyana “Spike Tee” Taylor – WINNER

Best New Artist

  • DaniLeigh
  • Lil Nas X
  • Pop Smoke
  • Roddy Ricch – WINNER
  • Summer Walker
  • YBN Cordae

Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational

  • Fred Hammond, “Alright”
  • John P. Kee ft. Zacardi Cortez, “I Made It Out”
  • Kanye West, “Follow God”
  • Kirk Franklin, “Just for Me” – WINNER
  • PJ Morton ft. Le’Andria Johnson & Mary Mary, “All In His Pain”
  • The Clark Sisters, “Victory”

Best Movie

  • “Bad Boys for Life”
  • “Dolemite Is My Name”
  • “Harriet”
  • “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé”
  • “Just Mercy”
  • “Queen & Slim” – WINNER

Best Actress

  • Angela Bassett
  • Cynthia Erivo
  • Issa Rae – WINNER
  • Regina King
  • Tracee Ellis Ross
  • Zendaya

Best Actor

  • Billy Porter
  • Eddie Murphy
  • Forest Whitaker
  • Jamie Foxx
  • Michael B. Jordan – WINNER
  • Omari Hardwick

Young Stars Award

  • Alex Hibbert
  • Asante Blackk
  • Jahi Di’Allo Winston
  • Marsai Martin – WINNER
  • Miles Brown
  • Storm Reid

Sportswoman of the Year

  • Ajeé Wilson
  • Claressa Shields
  • Coco Gauff
  • Naomi Osaka
  • Serena Williams
  • Simone Biles – WINNER

Sportsman of the Year

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Kawhi Leonard
  • LeBron James – WINNER
  • Odell Beckham Jr.
  • Patrick Mahomes II
  • Stephen Curry

BET HER Award

  • Alicia Keys, “Underdog”
  • Beyoncé ft. Blue Ivy, WizKid & Saint Jhn, “Brown Skin Girl” – WINNER
  • Ciara ft. Lupita Nyong’o, Ester Dean, City Girls & La La, “Melanin”
  • Layton Greene, “I Choose”
  • Lizzo ft. Missy Elliott, “Tempo”
  • Rapsody ft. PJ Morgan, “Afeni”

Viewer’s Choice Award

  • Chris Brown Ft. Drake, “No Guidance”
  • DaBaby, “Bop”
  • Future ft. Drake, “Life Is Good”
  • Megan Thee Stallion ft. Nicki Minaj, “Hot Girl Summer” – WINNER
  • Roddy Ricch, “The Box”
  • The Weeknd, “Heartless”

Best International Act

  • Burna Boy (Nigeria) – WINNER
  • Innoss’B (DRC)
  • Sho Madjozi (South Africa)
  • Dave (U.K.)
  • Stormzy (U.K.)
  • Ninho (France)
  • S.Pri Noir (France)

Viewer’s Choice: Best New International Act

  • Rema (Nigeria)
  • SHA SHA (Zimbabwe) – WINNER
  • Celeste (U.K.)
  • Young T & Bugsey (U.K.)
  • Hatik (France)
  • Stacy (France)

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