Keke Palmer Tapped to Host the 2020 MTV VMAs After Strahan, Sara & Keke Cancellation
On Thursday, it was announced that the 26-year-old Hustlers actress — who confirmed last month that her ABC morning talk show, Strahan, Sara & Keke, had been canceled permanently after the program was sidelined in March for coronavirus pandemic coverage — will host the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 30.
In a video call with True Jackson, the fictional character she played on the Nickelodeon show True Jackson, VP from 2008 to 2011, Palmer says, "True, I'm hosting the MTV Video Music Awards!"
After spitting out her water in response, Jackson — who has since been promoted to "CEO" since the show went off the air — says, "The VMAs?! Damn, looks like we're both a big deal."
"True Jackson needs to style you," she adds. "I got you."
Before the video ends, Palmer puts her own spin on the True Jackson, VP theme song.
In a statement, Bruce Gillmer, President of Music, Music Talent, Programming & Events for ViacomCBS Media Networks, said, "We're thrilled to have the multi-talented Keke Palmer as this year's VMAs host. Keke is an energetic force and a quadruple threat with unmatched comedic wit who will make this year's show truly unforgettable."
Earlier this week, it was announced that BTS, Doja Cat and J Balvin are among the first batch of artists slated to perform at the annual fan-voted awards show. The show will mark BTS' first-ever VMAs performance and the TV debut of their upcoming English-only single, "Dynamite," set to be released on Aug. 21.
In addition to performing, BTS is up for three nominations in the best pop, best K-pop and best choreography categories. Doja Cat also has three nominations in the song of the year, PUSH best new artist and best direction categories.
Balvin, meanwhile, has four nominations: one for best collaboration and three in the best Latin category.
Along with the usual categories — including video of the year, artist of the year, song of the year, best collaboration and more — MTV has added two new categories aimed at honoring music created during the pandemic: best music video from home and best quarantine performance.
The network previously announced that the awards show will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, after it was granted a go-ahead from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid the ongoing pandemic.
To ensure the health and safety of everyone involved, producers and venue staff will work with local officials to facilitate "extensive social distancing procedures, meaningful capacity limitations, the virtualization of components where possible, and limited capacity or no audience."
"Here's the thing, when the pandemic hit, that's what became all on our minds ... the pandemic, corona, understanding COVID," Palmer told host Andy Cohen.
"So I kind of knew that if our show did come back, it would have to be much, much later because our show was really about an audience," she continued. "That's what we do, we do a little bit of news, but it's entertainment news. It's really about fun conversations and lightheartedness."
"It's a different time now," she concluded, adding, "The conversation has changed and I just think kind of pushed SSK out."
Last August, Palmer joined the third-hour block of GMA as a co-host with Michael Strahan and Sara Haines for the GMA morning talk show. After the show was taken off the air for pandemic coverage, reports claimed last month that the third hour would move forward as GMA3.
Following reports of the show's cancellation, Palmer, who has been vocal in her fight against police brutality and racial injustice, spoke out on Instagram last month to dispel a rumor circulating on social media that she was terminated due to her active support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"I want to speak on this simply because I hate the narrative that if you speak your mind as a [Black] person that you will in some way be punished," she began the post. "I have seen this going around and at first I ignored but in this climate I realized this is a dangerous message to send to our generation and the generation coming up."
"If anything, my speaking out showed the corporations I work with how important my voice is and anyone that has a POV," she continued. "The reality is I was never signed to 'SSK' as one would a seasonal show. This business is dynamic and instead of thinking of me as a 'series regular' ... see me as a brand that works with the corporation Disney/ABC News and this particular show I was on is no longer."
She added of the firing rumor: "Do not believe this lie. Stay courageous and stay true because GOD HAS YOU ALWAYS ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️"
On Thursday, it was also announced that Palmer has been cast in the Disney+ revival of The Proud Family, subtitled Louder and Prouder. Palmer will voice a new character, a 14-year-old activist named Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins, on the animated series.
"❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ DREAMS COME TRUE!" she wrote on Twitter, sharing the announcement.
The 2020 MTV VMAs will air live on Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. ET.