We’re watching the BET Awards as a family, right?

The annual awards show, which always gets it right in terms of performers and tributes—this year, Lil Wayne will honor the late Kobe Bryant while Wayne Brady will pay tribute to the late Little Richard—is back at it again, giving us a much needed break from the cycle of trauma news.

This year’s host, Amanda Seales, told ESSENCE earlier this week that it’s her goal to get our minds off of the news cycle and cultivate Black joy for just a couple of hours.

“For any comedian, hosting the BET awards is an accolade that we pursue. So to be offered that opportunity is something that I don’t take lightly at all,” she said. “And to be able to be doing it during this time, in particular, that’s just a considerable honor that I don’t take lightly.”

And Seales said she knows just how hard it’s been between America’s complete failure to curb the spread of COVID-19 and dealing with systemic racism in every single facet of society.

“I’ve just been like on a rollercoaster,” the Insecure star admitted. “One hour, it’s like Oh, this good thing is happening right now, or you see a funny meme, and then the next hour you hear of another story of somebody having to deal with some form of discrimination, oppression, police brutality, you name it.”

The BET Awards hopes to honor the resilience of Black people at the ceremony this year. Beyoncé will be honored with the Humanitarian Award due to her BeyGOOD and #IDIDMYPART mobile testing initiatives, while D-Nice and the creators of the Verzuz battles, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz are among those being named as Shine A Light honorees, which recognizes those who’ve been creative during this difficult time.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 23: Cardi B and Offset perform onstage at the 2019 BET Awards on June 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

There will also be performances by Meg Thee Stallion, Chloe x Halle, Summer Walker, DaBaby, Roddy Rich, Usher, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and John Legend along with Gospel artists such as Karen Clark Sheard and her daughter, Kierra.

Because of the awards’ focus on the times, Seales said during her opening monologue she’ll be “coming out swinging” to give a “nuanced” comedy performance. “It’s not like I’m riffing the audience. I don’t have an audience that I’m roasting,” she added. “We’re also in a ridiculous serious but necessary time and I can not address that either.”

But don’t worry, Seales said. Although there will be no live audience, don’t expect what she typically gives on her Instagram account.

“I’m going to be in a studio space and it’s gon’ be dope and it’s gon’ be creative just like everything else I associate myself with,” she boasted. “You can rest assured I’m not gon’ be on my couch. It’s not gon’ be my Instagram Story…it ain’t gon’ be that type of party.”

“I’m definitely not trying to have Black Twitter come for me. That’s definitely not a goal by any stretch of the imagination,” Seales added.

The 20th annual BET Awards airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT.


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