Read Keke Palmer’s VMAs monologue: “It’s time to be the change we want to see”

Actress-singer Keke Palmer hosts the Video Music Awards on Sunday night.
“We’ve seen our generation step up, take to the streets and make sure our voices will be heard,” actress-singer Keke Palmer said at the Video Music Awards.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision/Associated Press)

Amidst piped-in applause straight out of a 1970s three-camera sitcom, Keke Palmer gave an opening monologue that touched on Black Lives Matter and the unrest in Kenosha, Wisc. Read the transcript below:

“I can’t believe MTV asked me to host. I don’t know if I was their first choice or the only one brave enough to do it during COVID.

“Either way, I got the job. But it’s not all different this year. One of the coolest parts of the VMAs is that we have the best fans in the world. And guess what, they even make some noise. I gotta say 2020 has undoubtedly been a rough year for everyone. And I’m not just talking about my edges. In fact, when something goes wrong I just say 2020. But as rough as it’s been, there have been incredible moments of inspiration that have given my generation hope, when we’ve seen heroes go above and beyond, whether they drive a delivery truck, work at a grocery store or serve on the front lines in a hospital, and with the Black Lives Matter movement.


At MTV’s 35th VMAs, the Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande duet “Rain on Me” won song of the year and best collaboration, while Gaga also took home the prize for artist of the year. The Weeknd nabbed the night’s biggest award, video of the year, for “Blinding Lights,” and best direction went to first-time director Taylor Swift for her song “The Man.”Hosted by Keke Palmer, the event featured performances by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, Da Baby, Miley Cyrus, BTS, Doja Cat, Latin boy band CNCO and Maluma. Gaga and Grande led the field with nine nominations apiece, followed by The Weeknd and Billie Eilish with six.

Aug. 30, 2020

“We’ve seen our generation step up, take to the streets and make sure our voices will be heard. Enough is enough. What we just witnessed in Kenosha, Wis., is yet another devastating reminder that we can’t stop that we can never tolerate police brutality, or any injustice, we must continue the fight to end systemic racism. The leaders of that movement are you, us, the people watching tonight. It’s our time to be the change we want to see. We need to come together and music.

“Music has that power, music can help us heal. It’s all love. And that’s what’s important. We are making the impossible possible pushing the boundaries of music performances because that’s what we do on the VMAs.”