Queen Latifah is being honored for her illustrious hip-hop and acting career at the 2021 BET Awards. Latifah received the Lifetime Achievement Award at Sunday night’s awards show during the televised event, hosted by Taraji P. Henson, where she shared an inspirational message in her acceptance speech.
Latifah took the stage with her father, Lancelot Owens, Sr., and a photo of her late mother, Rita Owens.
“I’m so extremely moved, I don’t even know what to say,” Latifah said, getting emotional. “Let me just say that I want to thank God, because God designed this whole thing to be this way. There is no way that I could have had the parents that I was born to, my father, my mother, who instilled so much in me. My family, I love you. My siblings, my best friends who ride or die with me. Whether my face is on the dirt or flying in the sky, they know me and they are there for me.”
“I want to thank BET for creating an outlet for beautiful Blackness to thrive, to shine. When we couldn’t get played on the radio and other places, we couldn’t get our videos played in other places, there was BET, that allowed us to be in our fullness and to shine to this night right now, right here. Bless everybody that graced the stage tonight and everyone in the audience for all your support,” she continued. “Be Black. Black is beautiful.”
Latifah continued, sharing that she’s always celebrated women because she was raised by a strong Black woman and a father who loves women.
“We can’t live without each other. I wanted to celebrate us because I know together, we stand stronger,” she shared. “So respect to all the females on the stage tonight.”
The performer thanked her team, including her longtime business partner Shakim Compere, before sharing a message to her fans.
“I thank you so much, all of you, the fans, for supporting every crazy thing I’ve done through the years,” she said. “Peace and happy Pride!”
Latifah’s speech came after an impressive tribute performance featuring Rapsody and Lil’ Kim. Rapsody first performed Latifah’s “Ladies First,” before Kim and MC Lyte belted out “U.N.I.T.Y.”
The sweet introduction was accompanied by a short video package that highlighted Latifah’s accomplishments across music, movies and TV — with stars like Jada Pinkett Smith, Megan Thee Stallion and more commenting on the performer’s incredible legacy.
In an interview with ET ahead of the show, Lil’ Kim opened up about about the tribute.
“Oh my gosh like it means everything. First of all, Latifah paved the way for me, for artist like myself, and so she’s like my sister, a friend, and everything. She’s always been there for me,” she said. “She was strong. She was representing Black women the way that Black women are supposed to be represented. Her music spoke for itself, her power spoke for itself and for her to be like the first Black woman in the game to own her own record label and to kind of be a boss and have artists, that was amazing.”
“Latifah, you’re just everything…. It’s like, movies, television, just being a boss and a mogul like this is long overdue to me,” she added. “So, it’s beautiful and for me to be apart of it is like that’s my girl.”
The BET Awards is in fulls wing. Be sure to keep up with ET’s winner’s list throughout the night.
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