The sun makes a quick afternoon appearance almost as if it anticipates the excitement behind BET’s Black Girls Rock! performers and attendees will bring to Brick City. Behind the scenes of the NJ Performing Arts Center, hair and makeup artists catch a moment in between beating celebrity clients and dancers to the gawds for the evening’s event. The sounds of dancers’ shoes click-clacking up the stairs to the stage echo and fill the hallways as the production team members hustle and bustle from dressing room to dressing room carrying large bags full of equipment and cameras worth more than I make in a month. Despite the pressure to bring the event to life, the energy level is high but it’s all good vibes.
Beverly Bond and BET sprinkled Black Girl Magic all over the red carpet with some one-of-a-kind moments prior to the show even beginning. There was the moment three-time host “Black-ish” star “Tracee Ellis Ross also named by YBF as T-MURDA saw her “Black-ish” co-star Marsai Martin for the first time of the night and in true mom fashion squeezed Marsai with love, gave Marsai a spin to see her all-pink ensemble in its entirety and up close as if she was surrounding little Marsai with the confidence and love Ross clearly embodies every waking moment of her life.
Then there was the time when Black Girls Rock! Living Legend honoree Glady’s Knight was being interviewed by Autumn Joi of the Jasmine Brand and childhood friend Dionne Warwick is gliding down the red carpet and bumps into Knight and it’s no longer an celebrity interview but a moment between two girlfriends who have not seen each other in a while. The golden moment came when the timeless/beauty Cicely Tyson joined the duo and lastly Black Girls Rock! founder Beverly Bond for a quick embrace.
Nothing else on the carpet matters but this moment of the titans and the evolution of Black women who rock continuously throughout history. Tracee Ellis Ross opened the show with her rendition of Beyonce’s “Formation” wearing a shiny red leather pantsuit and rocking golden box braids; she continued to wow attendees throughout the night with her beautiful wardrobe and hairstyle changes.
“I’m honored and humbled to dedicate this to the Black girl that doesn’t know she does indeed rock,” said actress-playwright Danai Gurira, whose show, Eclipsed, is currently on Broadway. Coca-Cola sponsored the M.A.D Girls Maya Penn, Marley Dias and Haile Thomas, who are young stars being the change we all would like to see within the youth. Amandla Stenberg was awarded the Young, Gifted & Black Award; the Queen of TGIT, Shonda Rhimes, received the Shot Caller Award. Black Lives Matters founders were awarded with the Change Agent Award, while Rihanna took a break from her ANTi-tour to accept the Rock Star Award. All honorees graciously accepted their respective awards acknowledging that the award was like no other they had received.
Andra Day performed her hit “Rise UP” with a video montage of melanin poppin’ women. The performances seemed to complement the honorees and mirrored the acceptance speeches which encouraged the little girls and women of all ages to believe in self, self-love and to be inspired. Other performance highlights include Brandy’s underrated vocal performance, Gladys Knight, as well as Marsha Ambrosius Corinne Bailey Rae and Imani Uzari. Monica Brown brought her little girl who rocked on stage with her. Let us not forget one of hip-hop’s icons, Lauryn Hill, graced us with her presence and a spin on her timeless hits.
Black Girls Rock! celebrated its 10th anniversary with past guests like Jada Pinkett Smith, first lady Michelle Obama, Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson. Beverly Bond reflected on Black Girls Rock! as “An answer to a lot of very negative, narrow messages that were being directed to Black girls.”
After watching this show there’s no way you don’t wake up the next morning feeling empowered and ready to take on whatever obstacles you faced the day before. So, thank you Beverly Bond for your vision to celebrate and bring awareness to the Black girl and all of her greatness.