LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – In a Sunday evening ceremony, the BET Awards was the first major award show to take place since California lifted safety protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no shortage of stars, dressed in their finest outfits for the evenings festivities.

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“It’s refreshing to be able to see everybody’s faces. It’s refreshing to be out here at the BET awards, which feels like home,” Oscar and Grammy Award winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson said.

Actor and writer Jordan E. Cooper echoed the sentiment, saying it was so good to see “people, like, living and breathing,..”

Some of the other star sightings included Grammy Award winner Lil Nas X, Grammy nominated rapper Jack Harlow, Grammy Award winner DJ Khaled and Queen Latifah herself, who received a lifetime achievement award in the Sunday ceremony. In the course of the evening, the late rapper and actor DMX was also honored.

The gravity of the night’s event wasn’t lost on two younger actors, Alex Hibbert and Michael Epps, nominated for their roles on the hit Showtime show “The Chi.”

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“I grew up watching the BET Awards,” Michael Epps said,” and I never pictured myself at the BET awards, being nominated for a BET award.”

Tonight’s show, hosted by Taraji P. Henson, was more than just an award’s show. The theme for the evening was “Black Excellence.”

“It’s a celebration of Black culture. It feels amazing, it really does,” said singer-songwriter Sevyn Streeter.

Actress Michelle Mitchenor offered her thoughts about the night’s theme as well.

“I’m very pro-Black, all day, every day. So, it just feels good to feel like everybody else gets it,” she said.

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Even with the absence of COVID-19 safety protocols, all attendees of the night’s festivities had to be tested and vaccinated to enter, including the show’s audience.