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It’s A Family Affair: 25 Tweets That Show Why The BET Awards Are Not Your Average Celebration

The BET Awards show is many things. It’s a party. It’s an event. It’s a political stage. But most importantly, it’s one of a few places that the entire black community can celebrate black celebrities from diverse backgrounds and across generations as a whole. The mixture of all of these fan bases culminates into one big social moment across every segment of the diaspora. Families gather together to discuss it while viewing it in real time at home, while fans and celebrities weigh in via the “black Twitter” funnel online.

So what makes this specific award show stand out? Obviously there’s this golden combination of “can’t miss” TV happening (the New Edition performance was so popular all on its own it caused streaming of the group’s music to jump by 269 percent) and the ingenuity of the fans themselves—phones open, ready to share, commenting and memeing—that makes the #BETAwards a guaranteed trending topic. But there’s also the feeling of inclusion that stretches beyond the stage and into the very offices of BET itself. Supporting and nurturing talent has now evolved into supporting and nurturing a feeling of togetherness for everyone watching and participating.

Jeanine Liburd, chief marketing & communications officer for BET Networks explains this “feel good” vibe has always been a part of the brand’s strategy. “Tapping into that big emotion makes the awards feel like a family event,” she explains. There’s good energy and positive heartfelt love in the room. It’s a big family reunion.”

And while there was no barbecue or matching T-shirts at this year’s event, the show managed to draw in almost 6 million viewers—many of whom took to Twitter to celebrate as though it was an intimate family affair everyone was invited to.

Here’s a social breakdown of how the BET Awards created a powerful circle of inclusivity.

1: The Anticipation

Before the show there’s anticipation, reuniting with old friends for what’s sure to be a good time, and when it ends… sadness until next year.

 

 

 

2: The Connection

When you’re around family, you feel free to be your true self. No one showed us this more than Blackish star and winner of the Young Star award, Yara Shahidi:

3: The Laughs

Of course, no family reunion would be complete without some laughs, and Leslie Jones, the host of the event, brought the funny—poking fun at new-era rap names like Lil Yachty.

 

This was also a homecoming of sorts for Jones herself. Her first televised gig was on BET’s Comic View, and when working with producers for this year’s awards, Liburd explains that coming together was very much top of mind for her. “[Leslie] wanted the awards show to be filled with joy and fun, for it to feel like a family reunion,” she says.

4: The Real Talk

And like a family, there was no shortage of real talk or radical honesty. In between the laughs and entertainment, there were also critically important moments surrounding police brutality and racial injustice. Chance The Rapper, the youngest person to ever receive the BET Humanitarian Award for his work in Chicago Public Schools, used his speech to call for change. Liburd explains that BET has always made a point to use the brand’s platforms to inspire fans to make a difference in their own lives and to help others. “We know we have the biggest black audience, so we make sure to honor and recognize people in the community making big changes, it’s always been critical to us.”

5: The Feels

And what would a good family reunion be without a surprise appearance? Former first lady, Michelle Obama, who introduced Chance via a heartwarming video message, gave everyone the feels, “Barack and I are so sorry that we cannot be there with you tonight in person, but please know that we are with you in spirit, and we are so incredibly proud of you, Chance,” she said, calling him an “outstanding role model and an inspiration to people who care about our next generation.”

6: The Bonding

This familial intimacy was extended even further when DJ Khaled not only brought his 8-month-old son Asahd onstage to perform with him, but took it to the next level when the toddler twinned it up with Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane in a matching turquoise Gucci tuxedo. Paper magazine summed it up best: “Nothing tops Gucci Mane looking like Asahd’s dang uncle with a matching turquoise tux. I don’t know what we all did to deserve this moment.”

7: The Legacy

And like a true family reunion, no one left or checked out before bestowing props on the beloved matriarch behind it all: BET’s chairman & CEO, Debra Lee. As Liburd explains, this unique phenomenon speaks to the “powers of the BET brand—fans are talking to us not just as a network, but as people.” The accolades from talent and fans watching at home not only demonstrate the culture of respect that’s ingrained in the black community, but also a respect and gratitude for the people who made it happen. Several stars including Erykah Badu, Bruno Mars, and Yara Shahidi personally thanked Lee in their speeches, further demonstrating the special place BET holds in the hearts of artists and fans. “Talent realizes we sit in a rarefied space,” notes Liburd. “From a brand positioning prospective, we’re all about being for the culture. So much of the talent had their first start at BET, or grew up seeing the talent they admired on BET.”


Watch the best performances and highlights from this year’s BET Awards at BET.com

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Published: Jul 31, 2017