Keke Palmer has officially kicked off the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards! The 27-year-old actress, dressed in a stylish, feather-fringed art deco flapper gown as she took to the digital stage, delivered a fun and impassioned opening monologue about the power of music to make cultural change.
“This is incredible. I can’t believe MTV asked me to host. I don’t know if I was their first choice or the only one brave enough to do it during COVID,” Palmer joked. “Either way, I got the job!”
“As rough as it’s been, there have been incredible moments of inspiration that have given my generation hope,” Palmer continued. “We’ve seen heroes going above and beyond, whether they drive a delivery truck, work at a grocery store, or serve on the front lines in a hospital. And with the Black Lives Matter movement, we’ve seen our generation step up, take to the streets, and make sure our voices will be heard. Enough is enough!”
Addressing the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Palmer said the incident is “yet another devastating reminder that we can’t stop. That we can never tolerate police brutality. Or any injustice. We must continue the fight to end systemic racism.”
Palmer explained that it’s “time to be the change we want to see” and that the world needs to come together to create a wave of progress.
“Music has that power. Music can help us heal,” she said. “It’s all love, and that’s what tonight is about.”
The introduction was filmed on a virtual stage, complete with a digitally generated audience that set the tone for how this year’s MTV VMAs was going to be changing the game when it comes to awards shows in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the show kicked off with a performance from The Weeknd, Palmer made a brief appearance dedicating the show to the memory of Chadwick Boseman, who died Friday after a private battle with cancer.
“Before we get into the music tonight, we need to talk about the devastating loss of Chadwick Boseman, an actor whose talent and passion is a true inspiration to all the fans he touched and everyone he encountered,” Palmer shared. “We dedicate tonight’s show to a man whose spirit touched so many. He is a true hero. Not just onscreen but in everything he did. His impact lives forever.”
Palmer is the first woman of color to host the show since 1986–87, when then-MTV VJ Downtown Julie Brown co-hosted. The Hustlers star follows last year’s host, comedian Sebastian Maniscalco. The 2018 awards show went without an official host, while Katy Perry helmed the 2017 ceremony.
While this year’s awards show might look a little different, expect to see plenty of star power during the VMAs. Lady Gaga is set to perform “Rain on Me” with Ariana Grande during the event. BTS, The Weeknd, Maluma and Roddy Ricch, as well as Miley Cyrus, Doja Cat, J Balvin and CNCO, are all ready to set the stage on fire.
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