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At the Hollywood Unlocked’s brunch, Cardi B and others offer thanks from near and afar

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Radio personality Angela Yee receives the Culture Award on behalf of “The Breakfast Club” morning show.

One of the many events happening over the weekend during the BET Experience was the Hollywood Unlocked’s first Social Impact Brunch.

Held at the Sunset Room Hollywood, the event honored rapper Cardi B, comedienne Tiffany Haddish, syndicated radio program “The Breakfast Club,” singer Teyana Taylor and the late Nipsey Hussle.

“This was an incredible dream of mine to create an event like this,” said Jason Lee (VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood,” MTV’s “Wild ‘N Out”). “I really wanted to honor badasses who are making a difference in the world of black entertainment. These are people who are important to our culture and help move the needle on issues that are vital in our community.”

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The honorees

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DJ B-Hen
(Sham Abdo / Shotbysham)

Although Cardi B was busy rehearsing for her BET performance on Sunday night and couldn’t pick up her Fearlessness Award, she did do a shoutout to Lee in her Instagram Stories.

“Congrats to @theonlyjasonlee for your award ceremony and congrats to all the things you got coming,” she said.

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Haddish also couldn’t attend the brunch as she was working on a movie. She sent along a video for the crowd to watch.

“Hey! You guys caught me here at work. Sorry I can’t be there, but I really wish I could be there for the Hollywood Unlocked Social Impact Brunch. But I am here working [and] preparing for my next thing, but you know me, I love to work,” she said.

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Amber Riley
(Sham Abdo / Shotbysham)

The actress-comedienne was thrilled to receive the Spirit Award.

“I mean, wow, somebody recognize my spirit ’cause I been trying to take care of it!” she said. “I’m not gonna lie to you. I definitely take care of it. I keep it close to me. I don’t share it too much. That’s not true. I do share my spirit, but I don’t share it with everybody.”

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B. Simone
(Sham Abdo / Shotbysham)

“I have a dream and a goal,” Haddish said. “I know exactly what I’m gonna do and how I’m gonna do it, so once you get your mind wrapped around that. … Anyway, thank you so much for the Spirit Award, and trust me, I’m gonna maintain my spirit. Now it’s time for me to finish these navy beans ’cause I gotta lose this weight. My spirit’s getting heavy!”

On the red carpet, “The Breakfast Club’s” Angela Yee talked about success as one of the hosts for the morning radio program, which received the Culture Award.

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“If it wasn’t for the support of the people in this room, we would never have made it to nine years on air,” said Yee, who is going on tour with Live Nation on behalf of her “Lip Service” podcast. “Many times it gets spoken that there are not enough spaces that celebrate us enough. This is why it’s so important to give back and connect with people at events like this.”

The performers

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Teyana Taylor
(Sham Abdo / Shotbysham)

June’s Diary, the girl group formed by singer Kelly Rowland à la Destiny’s Child and director-choreographer Frank Gatson Jr. on the reality television docuseries “Chasing Destiny,” performed at the brunch.

Brienna DeVlugt, one of the group’s singers, loved how the brunch lauded social media influencers who support the music industry.

“I think that the music industry is better because of social media — because it allows so much more room for independent artists,” DeVlugt said. “And for us specifically, since splitting with Epic Records and branching out from under Kelly [Rowland], we can really appreciate this new age of technology. It has helped us to continue expressing ourselves by giving us so many great platforms to share our music and experiences and stay connected to our fans.”

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Avery Wilson
(Sham Abdo / Shotbysham)

Added June’s Kristal Smith, “We’ve faced so many challenges working as independent artists to create music we love, music that inspires us, music that makes us feel — and on our own terms.

“Although we haven’t been invited back to the BET Awards since the show wrapped in 2016,” she continued, “we are thankful for opportunities like this brunch during BET Weekend and for other events that spotlight black artistry like Essence Fest, which we’ll be performing at again this year. All these setbacks have only made us stronger and have brought us closer together. We look forward to what’s to come for us collectively and individually.”

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June’s Diary
(Sham Abdo / Shotbysham)

Former “Glee” star Amber Riley, who worked with Haddish earlier this year on the film “Nobody’s Fool,” said she was honored to sing a few songs at the brunch.

“Even though I am an actor who performed on ‘Glee,’ it’s a completely different experience to be introduced as a recording artist and a performer,” said Riley, whose album will drop later this year.

Singer Avery Wilson got everyone on their feet, singing songs from his recent albums. “I love being a part of an event that honored so many strong black individuals in the community,” he said. “Showing us in a light so positive — I had to come spread my gift on the stage.”

image@latimes.com

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