Keke Palmer is set to host MTV’s annual Video Music Awards tonight (Aug. 30), and the singer and actress spoke exclusively with The Hollywood Reporter leading up to the major music event that has undergone safety changes as result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Palmer has taken “well over 10” COVID-19 tests, with constant testing every two days, the first-time award show host said. Other safety precautions have been taken as well: rehearsals were held over Zoom and her glam team wore masks and clear face shields.
On Aug. 10, the VMA’s announced that the award show would no longer be held in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, citing safety concerns. This came after after the show’s organizers proposed a “socially-distanced” show inside of the center back in June 2020. Now, the event will be fully outdoors with limited or no audience members.
Palmer pre-taped segments all over NYC, including in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, to prepare for the music event.The VMAs will “pay homage to the incredible resiliency of New York with several outdoor performances around the City with limited or no audience, adhering to all state and city guidelines,” said MTV and the Barclays Center in a joint statement. The event will also pay tribute to frontline medical workers.
“This is the first big thing in New York I think since COVID began. If you are planning on doing something like this, we have to be on strict guidelines,” Palmer added in the interview. “I just want to do what we need to do to get it done—I’m willing to jump through hoops. I think we need entertainment right now. It’s what I do and what I love.”
Palmer is the first Black woman to host the VMAs solo, as well as the first Black woman to host the show since MTV-VJ Downtown Julie Brown co-hosted in 1986 and 1987.
The “True Jackson, VP” actress recently starred in the 2019 film “Hustlers,” and will play the feature role in the historical thriller “Alice,” alongside Common and Jonny Lee Miller. The movie is inspired by “the true events of a woman of servitude in 1800s Georgia, who escapes the 55-acre confines of her captor to discover the shocking reality that exists beyond the tree line … it’s 1973,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Leading this year’s award nominations are Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande with nine nods each, Billie Eilish and The Weeknd with six, Taylor Swift with five, and Dua Lipa and Justin Bieber with four nods.
For the desirable “Video of the Year” category, video contenders include Future and Drake’s “Life Is Good,” Swift’s “The Man,” The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” Eminem and Juice WRLD’s “Godzilla,” Eilish’s “everything i wanted,” and Gaga and Grande’s “Rain on Me.”
The 2020 VMAs will air Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020 at 8pm EST on MTV.