This year, the BET Awards took a slight step backward from bestowing boatloads of awards and instead just threw the coolest, hippest concert of 2014. If audience reaction is any indication — and we were there inside the theater — the BET producers made the right call. (Read full report on winners here and see the complete list of winners here.)
From the moment Pharrell Williams took the stage to the pre-taped video finale of Beyonce and Jay-Z, the audience was on their feet… though for two vastly different reasons as you’ll soon discover. Scroll down to see our Top 10 behind-the-scenes shockers you didn’t see on TV.
1. Audience boos, curses during finale
For the entire duration of the show, audience members were promised a show-stopping performance by Beyonce and Jay-Z at the conclusion of the night. When emcee Chris Rock finally announced the duo after the nearly four-hour show, people jumped to their feet in excitement. But Beyonce and Jay-Z were nowhere to be found. Instead, producers cut to a pre-recorded video of the duo singing a song from their tour. The entire audience felt tricked and began storming out of the Nokia Theatre all at once in an angry exodus, many of them cursing for having been lied to.
2. Lil Wayne gets scolded
You know the moment Lil Wayne threw down the microphone after Young Money won the award for Best Group? It didn’t go over so well in the crowd. In fact, the audience warm-up guy even scolded the rapper and said his parents should punish him for acting up.
3. Kerry Washington’s fans stunned
The studio audience was filled with Kerry Washington (“Scandal“) fans, and when it was time for Best Actress to be announced, the entire arena began screaming in unison “Kerry! Kerry!” When the envelope was opened and Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave“) was announced as the winner, a strange silence filled the Nokia.
4. Seat fillers to the rescue
Just like last week’s Critics’ Choice TV Awards, dozens (if not hundreds) of seat fillers were utilized throughout the show, as audience members got up to use the restroom or left the theater entirely. The seat fillers in this case were herded like cattle during each commercial break by workers who were throwing them into every empty chair to give the illusion of a packed crowd.
5. Chicken and waffles
Despite Rock’s claims, the entire audience was not served chicken and waffles, just those few that were shown on camera. Everyone else was made to starve. Nevertheless, it was a fun gag that echoed Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres feeding pizza to the A-listers inside the Dolby Theatre on Oscar night.
During each commercial break, bodyguards would appear from out of nowhere and stand in the aisles next to the big celebrities like Washington, Snoop Dogg, Mike Tyson and Paris Hilton. Were these bodyguards protecting the celebrities from unwanted selfies, or just giving the illusion that the celebs were bigger than they appeared?
7. Phylicia Rashad still has it
When Phylicia Rashad was announced as coming out to the microphone next, the entire audience jumped to their feet before she even appeared. Rashad took a moment to reflect on the crowd’s admiration before moving on to her job of honoring the departed Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee.
8. Floyd Mayweather gets checked
Floyd Mayweather quite possibly made awards show history when he announced the winner of Best Female Hip-Hop Artist to who he thought deserved to win — Nicki Minaj — instead of opening up the envelope to see who actually won. As Minaj excitedly made her way onto the stage, a nervous-looking stagehand ran over to Mayweather and made him open the envelope. Yep, it was Minaj’s name inside. Crisis averted! Speaking of Minaj….
9. Nicki Minaj creates controversy
Minaj’s acceptance speech was met with equal parts cheers and boos from the passionate crowd. When she talked about being an artist who writes all of her own lyrics, many saw that as an attack on co-nominee Iggy Azalea and stood up to shout their approval or disapproval over Minaj’s dig.
10. Performance of the night goes to…
There’s no question that the BET performance that stirred up the biggest emotional response from the audience was Yolanda Adams singing “Jesus is Love” during the Lionel Richie lifetime achievement tribute. The song started slow but built into an unforgettable moment complete with a gospel choir as more and more people began to stand and show their appreciation for Adams’ God-given pipes.
Watch Adams’ performance below.