The 2019 BET Awards featured a number of contemporary pop and rap stars who are dominating the charts, from Cardi B to Lil Nas X. But the show belonged to artists viewed as icons in the black community, including singer Mary J. Blige, filmmaker Tyler Perry and the late rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Hussle, a respected and beloved community activist in South Los Angeles who was shot to death on March 31, posthumously earned the Humanitarian Award on Sunday night. His family, including his mother, father, grandmother, children and fiancée, actress Lauren London, accepted the honor on his behalf. "I just want to thank you guys for all the love and support, and the marathon continues again," London said onstage at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
John Legend, DJ Khaled, YG and Marsha Ambrosius celebrated Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, with a performance. Hussle also won best male hip-hop artist, besting Drake, J. Cole, Travis Scott, Meek Mill and 21 Savage.
Blige, who earned the Lifetime Achievement Award, ran through her hits during a lengthy performance, which featured Lil Kim and Method Man. Rihanna presented Blige with the award.
The Exonerated Five — whose profiles were recently raised with the release of a Netflix series based on their lives — introduced a performance by R&B singer H.E.R. and rapper YBN Cordae. Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Antron McCray spoke onstage as audience members got out of their seats to cheer them on. Directed by Ava DuVernay, "When They See Us" tells of the wrongful conviction of five black and Latino teenagers for the 1989 assault on a white female jogger in Central Park.
The audience also erupted in cheers for media mogul Tyler Perry, who earned the Ultimate Icon Award, presented to him by Taraji P. Henson.
BBC's Sarnoff takes over at Warner
BBC executive Ann Sarnoff was named chief of Warner Bros. on Monday, making her the first woman to head the movie studio in its 96-year history. Her appointment follows the departure in March of Kevin Tsujihara, who stepped down after misconduct allegations. WarnerMedia chief executive John Stankey announced Sarnoff's hiring, concluding a three-month search for one of Hollywood's most prized posts. Many had expected WarnerMedia to turn to an experienced film executive. But to surprise of much of the industry, WarnerMedia turned to Sarnoff, who has worked primarily in television. Sarnoff, takes over as chief executive and chair of Warner Bros., is currently president of BBC Studios Americas.