Amanda Seales is getting ready to host an awards show for the first time ever.
Amid the unprecedented global coronavirus pandemic and national unrest in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, the 2020 BET Awards will be taking place virtually on Sunday with the Insecure actress, 38, taking the reins as emcee.
Ahead of this year's ceremony, Seales tells PEOPLE why she thinks there's no better time to celebrate Black artists, and how she is preparing to host the show.
"It's less about it being during a pandemic and more about it being during a global uprising against racial discrimination. I don't think there’s a better time for us to be doing a show celebrating black folks for living in their craft to the best of their abilities," the former The Real co-host says.
About how she will open the show, the star says her monologue will "authentically" speak to "the Black experience, past present and future." And detailing when she was first approached to host the virtual awards show, Seales says she's "never insecure about getting onstage," adding that she doesn't "take the role lightly."
"I was more so just keenly aware of the importance of this time. I need to be thoughtful and I always am, but really making sure that I'm not taking anything for granted in terms of what this stage means at this time," she explains. "When I say 'at this time' I don't just mean about the uprising but about the fact that BET is celebrating 40 years. It's the 20-year anniversary of the BET Awards itself. So all of these things converging really is not something I take lightly and I'm looking forward to stepping into those shoes with grace."
Similar to recently aired programs during the health crisis, the BET Awards will be broadcast using footage of celebrities from the respective homes, where they will set up their own stages for performances and appearances. Detailing the major differences compared to years' past, Seales says this year's show will still incorporate comedy and reverence for Black artists.
"Well, we’re not in a theater so there’s that. Also, the performers are being given budgets to perform, to come up with their different renditions of how they want to bring their music out, so that’s going to be different because they’re not on a stage, they’re in their own setups," she says.
"We've come up with some fun, unique ways to bring comedy into the space and to give love and reverence to all the years of BET shows and we're definitely not taking any short cuts. Anyone who thinks that this is going to be the bootleg version of the BET Awards has got us twisted," Seales shares.
Days before her hosting duties, the Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin' comedian says she's reminding herself of the importance of this year's show. "I'm working with my writers, trying on outfits, getting a test for COVID. It's a different world, but prepping for the show is making sure that we are giving people levity and gravitas in the right amount of doses," she says.
As for her outfits, Seales says she is mindful of spotlighting Black creators. "We're always going for creativity. We're going to be supporting Black designers, my makeup and hair, we’re also supporting Black products," she teases.
"We always do but we're making a point of saying it out loud and putting that center stage. My outfits are definitely going to be reflective of iconic moments in Black style. We really made a point of being thoughtful about every element of this show and understanding how important it is that we are really committed to amplifying Black creatives and Black business and Black artists," Seales says.
The 2020 BET Awards will premiere on Sunday, June 28 at 8 p.m. EST.
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