“This night is for you, baby, we back outside! We finna go off!” host Taraji P. Henson cheered onstage to open the 2022 BET Awards on Sunday night (June 26), following a powerful entrance to the tune of Iniko’s “The King’s Affirmation.”
“This is culture’s biggest night, and look at all y’all, Black excellence in the room,” Henson gushed in her opening monologue, dressed in a stunning, sparkling orange gown and a sleek bob hairstyle. “We’re going to recognize, celebrate, and honor us. Let tonight be a reminder that we don’t need any other show to give us accolades that we can give ourselves.”
Henson thanked Lizzo for her performance of “About Damn Time,” and for her $1 million pledged donation to Planned Parenthood after the United States Supreme Court’s decision on Friday (June 24) to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that protected a woman’s federal right to have an abortion.
“It’s about damn time we talk about the fact that guns have more rights than a woman,” the Empire star continued. “It’s a sad day in America. A weapon that can take lives has more rights than a woman that can give life if she wants to.”
Henson went on to congratulate Diddy, her fellow Howard University graduate who is being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2022 BET Awards. “I didn’t know Diddy personally at Howard, but I remember hearing the name around the yard,” she explained. “His parties were lit, they were legendary, like they are today. All the celebrities were there — not me. Yeah, I never got into those parties, not me.”
She concluded by complimenting Diddy, who she said “has always been in a class of his own.”
“Our culture continues to influence everything and everyone,” Henson declared, followed by audience applause. “Tonight is no different.”
Watch her opening monologue below: