In her opening monologue, the host and actress remembered the Black Panther star — who died at 43 on Friday — by calling him "an actor whose talent and passion is a true inspiration to all the fans he touched, and everyone he encountered"

By Maria Pasquini and Brianne Tracy
August 30, 2020 08:40 PM
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Keke Palmer started the 2020 MTV VMAs by remembering late actor Chadwick Boseman.

In her opening monologue, the host and actress, 27, remembered the Black Panther star — who died at 43 on Friday after a private four-year battle with colon cancer — by calling him "an actor whose talent and passion is a true inspiration to all the fans he touched, and everyone he encountered."

"We dedicate tonight's show to a man whose spirit touched so many," Palmer said. "He's a true hero, not just on screen, but everything he did. His impact lives forever."

Chadwick Boseman
Victoria Will/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

This is Palmer's first hosting gig since her ABC morning talk show, Strahan, Sara & Keke was canceled.

Palmer announced that she would be hosting the annual award show earlier this month while having a one-on-one chat with True Jackson, the fictional character she played on the Nickelodeon show True Jackson, VP.

"True, I'm hosting the MTV Video Music Awards!" Palmer says in the sweet clip, as Jackson, who has since been promoted to "CEO," replies, “The VMAs?! Damn, looks like we're both a big deal."

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."

Keke Palmer

Check out PEOPLE's full MTV VMAs coverage to get the latest news on one of music’s biggest nights.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 VMAs will not be held indoors at New York's Barclays Center as previously planned. Instead, the annual event will feature live outdoor performances throughout the city with limited or no audiences — adhering to New York's health guidelines put forth amid the pandemic.

Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga, who will be teaming up for an epic performance of hit "Rain on Me" lead this year's nominations with nine nods each, closely followed by Billie Eilish and The Weeknd with six nominations.

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 socially distanced broadcast will also feature performances from BTS, The Black Eyed Peas, The Weeknd, DaBaby, Doja Cat, Maluma and CNCO. Previously announced performers J Balvin and Roddy Ricch will no longer be taking part in this year's show.

The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards are airing from New York City on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. ET.