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BET Awards 2021

A Look at This Year's Music & Film Nominees

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • June 21, 2021

BET History

Established in 2001, the BET Awards celebrates Black entertainers, including musical artists, actors, athletes, and more. The theme for this year's show, airing this Sunday, June 27, is The Year of the Black Woman. The program will be hosted by Taraji P. Henson, star of the juicy musical drama, Empire, and movies like the inspirational Hidden Figures and the 2018 thriller Think Like a Man. She's also written a great memoir called Around the Way Girl.

In a press release, Henson said, "Returning live, this year's show will be unlike anything we have ever seen before, and I am honored to be sharing the stage with so many powerful and prolific women in music and entertainment."

All Hail the Queen

This year's Lifetime Achievement Award will go to the almighty Queen Latifah. As one of the first hip-hop artists to have a presence on both the big and small screens, she garnered praise for her appearances in such hits as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Living Single, Set It Off, Beauty Shop, and more. We love her performance as a floundering gossip columnist who embarks on a raucous New Orleans getaway with girlfriends in 2017's Girls Trip.

In 1997 Latifah became the first rapper to appear in a Super Bowl halftime show. A few of her albums include: All Hail the Queen, Nature of a Sista and Black Reign. Her song "U.N.I.T.Y" remains a fan favorite and won the 1995 Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance. She has also written several books including Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman and children's book Queen of the Scene.

Topping the Charts

As always, one of the most exciting things about this awards show promises to be electric live performances from some of the biggest acts in R&B, pop, and rap. We're still savoring sizzling performances in recent years by the likes of Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Janelle Monae, Bruno Mars, Mary J. Blige, and John Legend.

This year, R&B artist The Weeknd is a favorite to win Best Album of the Year for his After Hours. Other top nominees include up-and-comers like H.E.R., SZA, Megan Thee Stallion, and DaBaby, as well as industry moguls such as Cardi B, Drake, Nas, and Beyoncé.

Beyond the Tunes

Although music commands the lion's share of attention, the BET awards include several other categories including actors and athletes. It will surprise no one that this year's nominees for Best Actor include the late Chadwick Boseman who died of colon cancer in August of 2020. The Black Panther star was a favorite to win an Oscar for his performance in the film adaptation of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, but instead the award went to Anthony Hopkins. He seems like a shoe-in for the win here.

For Best Actress, our bet is on singer and actress Andra Day for her stellar performance as Billie Holiday in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. That said, we wouldn't be surprised to see the award go to Boseman's Ma Rainey costar Viola Davis who last won in 2012 for her roles in The Help and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Another contender could be Issa Rae who is nominated for her hit HBO series, Insecure.

In the category of athletics, we are rooting for superstar Naomi Osaka (have you heard that she inspired a new manga character?), but of course, we're always happy to see Serena win. And as for the men, LeBron James and Patrick Mahomes are top choices among the nominees.

As award shows return to a live, in-person format, we are more than excited to celebrate this milestone, as well as the talent and hard work of these brilliant Black artists and stars. Who are your favorites to win?

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