Kendrick Sampson on the 'Cultural Shift' Still Needed in the Industry

Kendrick Sampson is ready for things to change. The actor and activist is “honored” to take the stage for a powerful performance at the 2021 GRAMMYs on Sunday night — but told ET’s Kevin Frazier ahead of the show that there’s still more work to be done. 

“I see things changing, I see that they brought in Black producers. I was brought in by Jesse Collins, which I thought was really dope. They brought in Black art, but they also need to value our art and allow us to determine the value of that art,” Sampson explained. “There’s an anti-Blackness that is pervasive in our entertainment industry and that is the same anti-Blackness that devalues our art and devalues our lives.” 

“That’s in the systems that killed and murdered Breonna Taylor, so we have to have a shift towards liberation. We have to have a cultural shift that allows us autonomy to determine the value of our lives and our art,” he added. 

Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Taylor, who was fatally shot by police officers in her Louisville, Kentucky, home on March 13, 2020.

“We need to honor Breonna Taylor’s life and her tragic death,” Sampson told ET. His GRAMMYs performance will “honor the movement of liberation that we have been fighting so hard for.” 

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A post shared by Kendrick Sampson (@kendrick38)

“I’m just… I’m more interested in than anything how people are gonna react,” admitted Sampson, who has fought for justice with the Black Lives Matter movement and through his own organization, BLD PWR. “Once you do the work and go… I just want to see if people will react positively, if they feel moved by it, if it adds to a shift in culture in the right direction towards liberation, more art that honors liberation.” 

Get the complete GRAMMYs winners list, plus GRAMMY Awards live updates at ETonline.com. 

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