How BET achieved the awards show we all needed

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Jesse Collins served as executive producer for Sunday's BET Awards, held virtually due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Beginning with an exciting remix of Public Enemy's hit "Fight the Power" and ending with a poignant version of "Something Has to Break" by gospel artists Kierra Sheard and Karen Clark-Sheard, the BET Awards reached a note for every state of adequate spirit for the times in which we are living.

Collins told CNN the shock had a purpose, but it even exceeded his expectations.

"Everyone in their creative way made a statement," Collins said. "They made a statement that change had to happen. We always want the show to reflect what culture feels and, to the best of our ability, sum it up in a three-hour broadcast. Everyone stepped forward."

Collins, who is also the founder and CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment, said there was collaboration between the artists and the show to produce resonant performances.

Rapper Da Baby's statement was an open critique of police brutality, re-enacting the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody during his "Rockstar" performance with Roddy Ricch.

Da Baby performed
Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, and Alicia Keys also delivered emotional performances that reflect the Black Lives Matter movement.

Collins said the goal was to "bow".

"Lean in, make the statement, and let's find creative ways to do it all night," he said. "So that's what we are trying to do."

Collins said they started thinking of creative solutions to the production challenges caused by the pandemic months ago.

"I think in the spring we realized that, you know, contrary to [what] the leadership [said] Covid was not going to go away," he explained. "The virus was still spreading, and still spreading, and security was at the top of the list. It became the decision that we had to do this differently."

Hostess Amanda Seales did her work from home. All performances and acceptance speeches were also filmed remotely.

While Collins said he loves "the energy of a live show," the pre-produced format worked.
And powerful "moments" like Beyoncé's call to action for people to "vote as if our lives depended on it," abounded on Sunday.

"When in doubt, do what Beyoncé says," joked Collins. "It is really a good way to live your life."

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