Jesse Collins served as executive producer for Sunday’s BET Awards, held virtually due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Collins told CNN the poignancy was purposeful, but exceeded even his expectations.
“Everybody in their own creative way made a statement,” said Collins. “They made a statement that change needed to happen. We always want the show to reflect what the culture is feeling and as best we can to summarize it into a three-hour broadcast. Everybody stepped up.”
Collins, who is also founder and chief executive officer 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 overt critique of police brutality, reenacting the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis police during his performance of “Rockstar,” featuring Roddy Ricch.
Collins said the goal was to “lean in.”
“Lean in, make the statement and let’s find creative ways to do it throughout the night,” he said. “So that, that’s what we tried to do.”
Collins said they began thinking about creative solutions to the production challenges caused by the pandemic months ago.
“I think in the spring we just kind of realized that, you know, contrary to [what] leadership [was saying] Covid was not going away,” he explained. “The virus was still — is still — spreading and safety was at the top of the list. It became the decision that we just have to do this in a different way.”
Host Amanda Seales did her job from home. All the performances and acceptance speeches were also filmed remotely.
“When in doubt, do what Beyoncé says,” Collins joked. “It’s really a good way to live your life.”