With so many of Black Hollywood’s finest making headlines for one reason or another, fans and famous faces turned up and showed out for the culture in Los Angeles for the 2018 BET Awards.

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A socially conscious J. Cole hit the stage to kick off the show’s performances with a live version of “Friends,” from his latest album, KOD. The song’s message brought people to their feet and received a standing ovation as the show transitioned into its next segment.

Show host Jamie Foxx put all his talents to work as he danced, sang, acted out skits and told as many jokes as possible.


While the night pays tribute to the best artists, entertainers, motivators and social leaders, it also honors those who have helped pave the way for those to follow in their footsteps someday in the future. After 30 years with the network, Debra Lee is officially stepping down as chairman of BET.

To thank her for her work and impact, Lee was given the Ultimate Icon Award.

“It’s an incredible honor to receive this award tonight. As I stand here on this stage, a brown girl from Greensboro, NC, I thought moments like this were fantasy. Growing up I was a fan of beautiful Black brands, so naturally I was excited 32 years ago to join a Black company that created content for a Black audience…Black programming is very popular right now because other networks are finally learning what we’ve known at BET forever: that the power of Black culture is unmatched. It’s beautiful. It’s amazing. It’s everything.”

Flustered by Todd “LL Cool J” Smith standing next to her, the programming veteran couldn’t stop smiling as she spoke to the audience.

Before walking off the stage, Lee left downtown Los Angeles and viewers across the country with this: “I hope you look at my career as proof that you can do and be anything you want to be because you rock! And don’t let anyone ever tell you any different.” Then, she channeled America’s favorite president.

“I’m reminded of the parting words from our Commander in Chief, Barack Obama: Debra Lee, out.”

After that, the Migos hit the stage, Meek Mill introduced a new track, “Stay Woke” which sounds like a reflection about his past year and the parallels the holes in the justice system. The imagery used to portray the words in his song were saddening but real.

In the words of Spike Lee, it’s time to wake up!

Check out the full winner’s list  below.

Best Collaboration – DJ Khaled, Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, “Wild Thoughts”

Best New Artist – SZA

Best Actress – Tiffany Haddish

Best Group – Migos

Best International Act – Davido

Best MovieBlack Panther

Lifetime Achievement Award – Anita Baker

Ultimate Icon Award – Debra Lee

Viewers’ Choice Award – Cardi B, “Bodack Yellow”