Taraji P. Henson Anticipates Will Smith’s 2024 BET Awards Performance: ‘Excited to See What He Has Planned’ (Exclusive)

The actress is hosting the 2024 BET Awards on Sunday, where the ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ star is set to debut a brand-new song live

Taraji P. Henson and Will Smith

Taraji P. Henson; Will Smith. Photo:Image Press Agency/NurPhoto/Shutterstock; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

There’s no telling what Will Smith has in store for his 2024 BET Awards performance, but host Taraji P. Henson can’t wait to find out.

Ahead of her emcee gig at the annual ceremony on Sunday, June 30, the Fight Night actress, 53, spoke to PEOPLE about what she’s most excited about as she returns to host for a third year.

“It’s going to be an incredible show,” she says. “You know, it’s Culture’s Biggest Night. The performances are going to blow us all away. We got Will Smith, guys. I am so excited to see what he has up his sleeve.”

Earlier this week, BET announced that Smith, 55, has a special performance scheduled on Sunday, during which he’ll debut a brand-new song live — his first in over five years. The news comes shortly after the Bad Boys: Ride or Die star told Extra that he has a forthcoming project he plans to release in the next “month or so.”

Will Smith and actress Taraji P. Henson attend "The Karate Kid" Los Angeles Premiere After Party at Mann Village Theatre on June 7, 2010

Will Smith and Taraji P. Henson at the ‘The Karate Kid’ Los Angeles Premiere Afterparty in Westwood in June 2010.WireImage/Getty

In addition to Smith’s performance, Henson also raved about Usher receiving the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award from BET this year after a very accomplished (and still thriving) career.

“Usher is getting his flowers and I’m so honored to host the show where he’s receiving his flowers,” she adds. “I’m just proud of him. It’s just a proud moment. It’s a proud moment for the culture.”

Henson is back hosting the BET Awards this year after holding down the show back-to-back in 2021 and 2022. The Color Purple star tells PEOPLE she was “ready” to return in 2023, but “then we had the strike,” referring to the WGA, which ended its strike in September after a record 146 days.

As she prepares for her hosting duties once again, the Oscar-nominated actress reveals that she still gets nervous at this stage of her career, even after raking in numerous awards and becoming one of the most well-known stars in Hollywood.

“Absolutely. I love nerves,” Henson shares. “I get nervous on the first day of shooting. It’s a live show. Anything can go right or wrong, you know, but that’s what’s so exciting.”

She adds, “If I’m not nervous, I would be nervous.”

Taraji P. Henson speaks onstage during the 2022 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2022

Taraji P. Henson hosts the BET Awards at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on June 26, 2022.Kevin Winter/Getty

The 2024 BET Awards kicks off on Sunday with a star-studded lineup of performers that include Megan Thee Stallion, Ice Spice, Lauryn Hill, Tyla, GloRilla, Latto, Muni Long, Sexyy Red, Victoria Monét and Shaboozey. Other surprise artists are set to hit the stage as well to honor Usher with a special tribute performance.

Leading the pack for BET Award nominations this year is Drake, with nods across seven categories, including album of the year. Nicki Minaj follows behind with six nominations, while J. Cole, Sexyy Red, SZA and Monét have five each. Meanwhile, Beyoncé, 21 Savage, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, Tyla and honoree Usher all have nods in four categories each.

The 2024 BET Awards air live on the network on Sunday, June 30, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

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