This past weekend, BET Experience brought out hundreds of fans in the summertime heat to enjoy four days of Black entertainment excellence at L.A. Live. The event featured everything from panel talks with entertainment industry professionals, to the latest in fashion styles and performances from artists of all types.
On Thursday, the live tapings of ‘106 and Park’ began at the Microsoft Square. The night ended in laughs at the Staples Center. Comedian Kat Williams did not let his recent run-ins with the law and other popular comics prevent him from showing his comic genius. He performed along with Mike Epps, host Red Grant and special guest comic Mark Curry.
Friday, Usher emerged from a cascade of jelled lights directly into a shower of cheers and praise from the excited crowd ready to perform. The evening performance was followed by artist Bryson Tiller and guest performers Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Wale and Young Thug.
Saturday, at the Regal Theaters, the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) presented screenings of its Miami festival films. ABFF Encore is a programming collaboration between the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) and BET Networks. The program featured movie industry specific workshops held at the JW Marriot hotel. Screenings included “How to Tell You’re a Douchebag” with Tahir Jetter (Director), ‘=”Destined” with Qasim Basir (Director) and “Everything but A Man” with Nnegest Likke (Director).
At the Los Angeles Convention Center, the BET Fan Fest featured concerts, fashion shows, beauty workshops, Sneakercon, the Celebrity Basketball Game, a Slam Dunk contest, the Coca Cola Music Studio, Genius Talks, and tapings of MTV’s “Wild N Out” and BET’s “106 and Park”.
Sneakercon was an area where lovers of vintage tennis shoes could mingle, chat, trade and sell shoes. Some of the top brands where Nike’s Jordan and the ‘Kobe’s.’ One pair of the former Los Angeles Lakers shoe’s sold for $200.
Love reigned supreme at the Fanfest as fashion icons Stacii Jae Johnson hosted the Beauty of Love Relationship panel which featured Shanice and Flex Alexander. Fashion icons Naturi Naughton, Lela Loren and Omari Hardwick came out for “It’s your Move” meet-and-greet on Saturday.
Concert stages featured performances throughout the weekend and included Kevin Gates, Fat Joe Desiigner, BJ the Chicago Kid, and Bibi Bourelly.
Genius Talks featured entertainment industry leaders that spoke about relevant topics including a talk about Black Woman in Hollywood that featured Soledad O’Brian and Gabriel Union. Kirk Franklin spoke about Uplifting your Genius with moderator DeVon Franklin. Birdman, Snoop Dog and Jermain Dupree also spoke with moderator Angie Martinez about being leaders in the industry and their new reality show called “Moguls”.
“Seeing and listening to the talented individuals giving back through sharing their stories and advice was empowering to me,” said BET experience attendee Deanna Newton. “It is the definition of black excellence.”
Hosting the talks where industry executive Janell Snowden, who focused on the use of social media and why that was relevant for the current times.
Over at the Novo, The Roots performed with special guests T.I., Marsha Ambrosius and The Internet. The Roots also featured a long tribute to Prince by Roots member Jeremy Ellis, who played two Maschine Studio drum machines loaded with Prince samples that ranged from “Kiss” to “Purple Rain”.
Lil Wayne and 2-Chains was the big draw for Saturday night’s concert at the Staples Center. 2-Chains worked hard to prove that he was no sidekick to the much smaller Lil Wayne, but his contemporary in both showmanship and lyrical content.
The BET experience weekend ended Sunday with the Gospel Showcase as a major draw for fans. This year’s Gospel Showcase featured Tye Tribbet, Tasha Cobbs, Devon Franklin and Tim Bowman Jr.
For more information on this year’s BET Experience or for information on next year’s BET Experience, go to http://www.bet.com/bet-experience.html.
Kimberlee Buck contributed to this article.