by DC Livers
Special to BlacksinHollywood.com
(www.BlacksinHollywood.com ) – Every year, Viacom’s Black Entertainment Television (BET) tries to out do itself. The red carpet often is not even red. I’ve stepped on red carpet, green carpet, yellow carpet, black carpet, you name it. For 10 years, this year, I’ve covered the awards and after a decade it dawned upon me: I have some thoughts.
BET also hosts a ton of not-seen-on TV events for what they call “BET Awards Week” which each have their own personalities and of course carpet colors, swanky furniture and awesome swag bags. While it may appear to people at home watching the show or reading the social media posts that the awards are “ghetto” because it is focused on Black people, I assure you the BET Awards is one production that everyone needs to see at least once in person.
Every year, I’m mesmerized by the staff coordination and visual playground that happens at the BET Awards. There are so many events to cover and attend that I personally block the entire month of June to prepare myself for the experience. I’ve got it down to a science on where to stay, what to eat to ensure that the hot sun doesn’t take me out and even draw up an internal map of important things like the distance to the local copy shop, where to buy additional camera or video equipment, where to go to replace a broken cell phone and where to park.
I come packing what I call my “War Book,” because while the BET Awards and BET Experience is great fun for those who are there for the party, I’m there to cover and make sure that my audience made up of 3,421 Black-owned media outlets, broadcasters, bloggers and digital content producers have access to up-to-the-minute photos, videos, interviews and tidbits to post on their websites, broadcast or post on social media. Without my access, many of these publications wouldn’t be able to have any coverage of the BET Awards, something that I get bent out of shape about each year. Imagine a Black media outlet in Nigeria not having current information about Wiz Kid being kind enough to record a track with American producer, Swizz Beatz. That’s a big moment and embarrassing one if they have to rely on a white media outlet like Associated Press or Getty whose staff is nearly all White and rarely know who some of the people they snap pics of or interview.
Every single year, I’m almost always one of the future reporters seeking out the African musicians who are in town for the show. I scream their names out to interview and they are always so shocked that someone knows them. When I introduce myself and my outlet, they are so grateful that we came, found them and allow them to send love to their fans and supporters back home. I have to say, it always pisses me off when some Black journalist or blogger says, “Who was that?” or “Why is he even on the red carpet?”
One year, I inteviewed Lira, whose voice rivals Whitney Houston. She’s a major star but five people stnading next to me admitted they’d never heard of her and thought it was odd that she was wearing an afro on the red carpet.
Over the past few years – buoyed by multi-platinum sales of her two studio albums and live DVD, a mantlepiece full of awards and support of fans – Lira has made no secret of her desire to find a global audience for her music. In our exclusive interview, Lira discusses her South African roots, what it’s like to gain popularity in the U.S. and her experience singing at Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball. Still, there are likely people reading this post right now who don’t even know who she is. Still, I’m always happy that BET is on this journey with me to help expose as many African musicians to Black America as possible.
HISTORY MAKING SET DESIGN
During a racist moment caught on video, TMZ’s staffer Dax showed his true colors by saying, “Do you honestly think Madonna cares about what the BET Awards does?” He tone showed that he was offended that a White icon like Madonna would be put on blast by BET over the Prince Tribute. He was immediately checked by his fellow staffers but the damage was done. He’d let the cat out of the bag: White people do not respect the BET Awards.
To be honest, that’s a good thing. It’s already racially uncomfortable enough to be a Black person or journalist trying to cover the BET Awards. For example, Black Press Radio is generally only given two media credentials where as White outlets like Associated Press, Getty and others get damn near a football squad. The workers all huddle together like they are all afraid to be there. They go to the bathroom in pairs. It’s racially hostile to see the preferential treatment that White media is given the BET Awards.