Opening the annual ceremony dedicated to the best in pop music, host Keke Palmer calls Boseman “an actor whose talent and passion is a true inspiration to all the fans he touched, and everyone he encountered."
Youth channel MTV has dedicated its Video Music Awards show to Chadwick Boseman, calling the "Black Panther" star, whose death last week at age 43 shocked fans around the world, a "true hero."
Opening the annual ceremony dedicated to the best in pop music, host Keke Palmer called Boseman “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. He’s a true hero, not just on screen, but everything he did. His impact lives forever,” Palmer said.
Boseman's death on Friday of colon cancer brought an outpouring of tributes ranging from former US President Barack Obama to Oprah Winfrey and "Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler.
Boseman had been diagnosed in 2016, his family said, but had not publicly disclosed his illness.
The VMA awards show on Sunday also ran clips of Boseman accepting an MTV Movie Award in 2018 for his role as king of the fictional African kingdom Wakanda in "Black Panther," and aired a black screen with the words "Rest in Power."
The groundbreaking 2018 superhero movie, the first in the genre to feature a predominantly Black cast, jumped back into the top five on the Apple and Amazon movie charts on Sunday.
RIP Chadwick Boseman.— Video Music Awards (@vmas) August 31, 2020
Tonight's #VMAs is dedicated to him.
ABC television changed its schedule on Sunday to air the "Black Panther" film and hosted a tribute to the actor's life and work.
His family's tweet announcing his death on the actor's Twitter account became the most-liked posting ever on Twitter, the social media platform said on Saturday. It had 7.2 million likes by Sunday.
Coogler described Boseman in a statement on Sunday as "an epic firework display" and said he had been unaware that Boseman was ill while filming "Black Panther."
Boseman's other screen credits included playing Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball's color bar, and funk musician James Brown.
Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande dominate VMA show
Lady Gaga dominated the MTV Video Music Awards show on, with a series of visually arresting outfits, masked performances and three early wins, including artist of the year.
Gaga, who went into the show sharing a leading nine nominations with Ariana Grande, stormed the ceremony with multiple costume changes ranging from an exotic bird to a bright green ball gown - all accompanied by exaggerated custom-made face masks and muzzles.
"I was wearing face shields before it was a thin g," Gaga said on Twitter during the show.
The VMAs marked the first major US awards show to take place during the coronavirus pandemic. It was filmed without a live audience and with most of the performances recorded in advance because of health guidelines.
Host Keke Palmer opened the televised ceremony by dedicating it to "Black Panther" actor Chadwick Boseman, who died on Friday at the age of 43.
Gaga was also given a new lifetime achievement trophy, called the Tricon Award.
"This has not been an easy year for a lot of people," she said. "Stay safe, speak your minds, and I might sound like a broken record but wear a mask."
In the fan-voted show, Gaga and Grande took home VMAs for song of the year and best collaboration for "Rain On Me."
The show also recognised essential workers at the frontlines of the outbreak, and handed out trophies to Grande and Justin Bieber for the best performances recorded during the pandemic that has shut down live music shows since mid-March.
Black lives matter
America's national reckoning over systemic racism was also on the minds of performers and presenters after months of street protests over the death s of Black people at the hands of police.
"It's our time to be the change we want to see," said Palmer. "We need to come together, and music has that power."
The Weeknd, accepting the trophy for best R&B song for "Blinding Lights", said he was not in the mood for partying.
"It's really hard for me to celebrate right now and enjoy this moment, so I'm just going to say justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor,” he said, referring to the recent police shootings of Blake and Taylor.
K-Pop sensation BTS made their debut performance at the VMAs, singing their new single "Dynamite," and the seven member boy band won two early awards for best pop group and best K-pop artist.