Stephen Hill Steps Down at BET; His 5 Most Iconic Achievements
Longtime programming president Stephen Hill has announced that he is leaving BET Networks after 18 years of service. Hill’s resignation was announced on Wednesday (March 29) by BET Networks chairman/CEO Debra Lee in an internal staff memo.
According to Billboard, Lee praised Hill for his “energy, passion and love of BET” and called him a “trusted colleague and friend.”
“Thank you Stephen for every awesome and magical moment, I know this won't be our last dance,” she wrote. “I know your dedication to BET will still live on in everyone you’ve touched over the years.”
Hill also released a memo to staffers, which read in part, "This Friday (March 31), 6,549 days after I took my first step through the doors of BET, I will walk my last one out. It has been my honor to serve this brand in that span and I am thrilled to have been able to be a member of the teams that ideated and created so many spectacles, moments, memories and miracles. It’s been fulfilling to be part of huge changes that literally shifted culture."
Hill concluded, "I will miss you all. I will miss this. I will miss us. But I am so excited to see where you next take this powerful, agile, thrusting spacecraft of a brand. Imagine it and drive well."
During his 18-year tenure at BET, Stephen Hill created several incredible, memorable moments for the network. The Boombox wanted to highlight some of his iconic moments with the network. Here’s our salute to Stephen Hill.
When other cable networks failed miserably with their biopics (we are still trying to forget Lifetime’s horrible Aaliyah movie), BET Network came through with the fantastic six-hour biopic, The New Edition Story. The casting was perfect, the direction was stellar and the acting was on point. The New Edition Story was well-received by fans and critics alike and drew record ratings for the network when it debuted in January 2017.
Stephen Hill is responsible for bringing Black excellence to awards shows. The BET Awards was the place to be for Black artists to perform for their fans and be honored for their music. Prior to Hill’s arrival, BET had no live television content. This changed the game. The BET Awards delivered many "wow" moments onstage, especially when it came to elegiac tributes for iconic artists like Michael Jackson and Prince.
MTV had Total Request Live where Britney Spears and 'NSYNC could perform, but what about the Black artists? Stephen Hill changed all of that with 106 & Park. While the show went through several different iterations and hosts, it became the network's highest-rated afternoon show among young people.
BET celebrated hip-hop with their annual BET Hip-Hop Awards. Throughout the years, the award show has been remembered mostly for The Cyphers, which has ignited plenty of "aww yeah" moments for viewers. Who can forget Eminem's blistering freestyle with Slaughterhouse or Kendrick Lamar dissing almost every rapper in the industry during his cypher? The BET Hip-Hop Awards will continue to be a mainstay on the network thanks to Stephen Hill.
Hill decided to flip the script on reality TV with the hit faux-reality show, Real Husbands of Hollywood, which starred Kevin Hart, Boris Kodjoe, Nelly, Duane Martin, J.B. Smoove, Nick Cannon and Robin Thicke. He continued to bring more original programming to the network with popular series, Being Mary Jane and the network's most recent original programming endeavors, The Quad and Rebel.
In the age of social media it's all about going viral. In 2015, Stephen Hill became a trending topic on Twitter after backstage cameras caught Rihanna throwing a stack of cash in Hill's face at the BET Awards. Many fans thought that Hill did something wrong to RiRi and expressed their outrage in 140 characters. But, after the show ended, Rihanna and Hill posted photos on their Instagram pages joking that they “kissed and made up.” It was all staged but a hilarious moment nonetheless.