Aug 14, 2019

By Kelby Clark
“Missy is and has always been the ultimate creative visionary.”

The last time Missy Elliott appeared on the MTV VMAs stage, it was 2006 and she was clad in a now-iconic black blow-up jumpsuit from “The Rain” music video. When she returns to the award show stage this year, she’ll be accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, which signifies a lifetime of dedication and achievement in the music business.

The honor is a testament both to the longevity of her career and her status as an icon who’s continually redefined the limits of what music videos could and should look like. A genre-bending, boundary-breaking artist, Elliott paved the way for some of today’s most innovative artists, from Ariana Grande to Lizzo, Rich the Kid, Ari Lennox, Billie Eilish, and Solange, among many others. The timing is a testament to the passion of her fans and MTV’s ability to connect with young audiences.

“I'm a firm believer that timing is everything and this is the year of Missy Elliott,” says Amani Duncan, SVP for music at MTV, who supports the brand’s music industry relationships through artist-driven initiatives and oversees specific music content creation and initiatives in the U.S. “She’s the type of artist that you want to stand up on the VMA stage and receive the Video Vanguard Award.”




MTV’s ‘Fans First’ Music Strategy

MTV revamped its global strategy with increased focus on new and emerging youth and music culture earlier this year.

“We need to be not only music-first in our thinking and in our actions, but also fan-first,” Duncan explains. “If you're programming towards a specific demographic, you need to be in-tune with that demographic to give them what they want.”

Since she joined the team almost three years ago, Duncan—a nearly 20-year veteran of the music industry—and her team have worked with Global Head of Music and Music Talent Bruce Gillmer and General Manager of MTV, VH1, CMT, and Logo Amy Doyle to expand the network’s global purview.

"We need to be not only music-first in our thinking and in our actions, but also fan-first."

Amani Duncan

SVP for music at MTV

The VMAs now airs in more than 170 countries and is amplified across platforms to reach a massive global audience wherever they are.

This year, for the live broadcast on Monday, Aug. 26, MTV will launch the MTV VMA Stan Cama live, interactive viewing experience that will let viewers vote on their preferred camera feeds. On Twitter and Facebook Messenger, viewers can cast an additional vote for Video of the Year, Song of the Year, and more. For the second year, fans with an Amazon Echo device will be able to ask Alexa to “vote for the VMAs for Artist of the Year.


The Movement Behind Missy’s Moment

For years, fans campaigned for Elliott to win the Video Vanguard Award with petitions, articles, and blog posts. In 2018, #MissyElliottAppreciationDay trended during the day of the awards show after the celebrated rapper denied rumors she was the year’s honoree.

The support is a testament to Missy’s pervasive and unrelenting influence."Missy was and still is a trailblazer in music and culture. She was moving boldly forward and doing things that were not always popular or in fashion. She didn't follow trends, she created her own for others to follow. She is unapologetically bold and paved the way for others," says Duncan.

To celebrate her legacy, the brand is set to partner with Pepsi to create The Museum of Missy Elliott pop-up that immerses attendees in Elliott’s futuristic, iconic videos in New York City from August 24 to 25.

With her seventh studio EP slated for release in late August, the Vanguard honor is one of several indicators that 2019 is the year of Missy. She will be the first female hip hop artist to receive the golden Moon Person, rounding out a year of achievements in which she also became the first female hip-hop artist inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, received an honorary doctorate from the Berkeley College of Music, headlined Essence Festival, and appeared on the August cover of Marie Claire.

“Missy is and has always been the ultimate creative visionary,” says Duncan. “She always breaks boundaries, remains cutting-edge, beautiful and bold. She is unstoppable."


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