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June 27, 2022

Jazmine Sullivan, Will Smith among winners at 2022 BET Awards

Quinta Brunson, Jabari Banks and Questlove's 'Summer of Soul' also were nominated

Two Philadelphia natives – Jazmine Sullivan and Will Smith — received trophies at Sunday night's BET Awards, though several others were honored with nominations ahead of the televised awards show. 

Jazmine Sullivan was a heavy hitter at the BET Awards, earning an award for best female R&B/pop artist. The singer also was nominated for album of the year for "Heaux Tales, Mo' Tales: The Deluxe," and was recognized as a nominee for the BET Her award, though the honor ended up going to fellow R&B singer Mary J. Blige

Sullivan has had a busy few years, as the release of her fourth studio album "Heaux Tales" was met with widespread critical acclaim. Her return to music after nearly six years without a new album was met with excitement from fans beginning in August 2020, with the release of "Lost One," the album's first single. 

The album was celebrated as the best of 2021 by Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Pitchfork, and the Los Angeles Times. It debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart following its initial release, and has been her most popular release of her career. The deluxe album, "Heaux Tales, Mo' Tales," was released in February, ahead of her most recent tour. 

Sullivan used her acceptance speech as an opportunity to speak out against the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. In the speech, she noted that she does everything in her career for women, particularly Black women, and called on the men in the audience and those watching to stand up for the women in their lives. 

Will Smith continued what may be the last leg of his awards show run for his role in "King Richard," with the film earning its own award for best movie and Smith walking away with best actor, though his award was given away off-screen. 

The actor has seldom been seen at industry events since his internet-breaking Oscars slap in March. Though his first Oscar win was largely overshadowed by the verbal and physical encounter with comedian Chris Rock just moments earlier, Smith has continued to earn recognition for his performance as Richard Williams in "King Richard." 

The infamous Oscars moment resulted in Smith being barred from attending the awards show for 10 years, though he is still eligible for nomination. His wife, Jada Pinkett Smith — who was the subject of Rock's joke and the subsequent altercation — spoke about the incident at length during an episode of her Facebook Watch show, "Red Table Talk." 

Other Philly-adjacent nominees at this year's BET Awards included Jabari Banks for his performance as Will in Peacock's "Bel Air." The "Fresh Prince" reboot premiered on the streaming platform in February, and has received mixed reviews, primarily for its grittier take on the original series. 

Another nomination went to Quinta Brunson for her role on ABC's "Abbott Elementary." The sitcom, which has garnered widespread praise for its depiction of the state of public education, takes audiences inside a fictionalized Philadelphia public elementary school, plagued by funding shortages but filled with teachers who are willing to fill the gaps left by divestment in education. 

The show is currently in production for its second season after a well-received debut last winter. Brunson has been lauded for reviving the popular network sitcom, but told Adam Scott during an appearance on Variety's "Actors on Actors" that she doesn't believe that she deserves that praise, noting that shows like "Young Sheldon" have also garnered large audiences.

Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson also received another nomination for his immensely popular directorial debut in "Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)." 

The documentary, which chronicles the forgotten legacy of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, won Questlove his first Academy Award for best documentary, and was featured heavily at each awards show following its explosive release at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Actress Taraji P. Henson hosted the 2022 BET Awards, which were held in the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 26.