Jay-Z and Beyonce. Photo by Mason Poole/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock.

2020 has been a dizzying roller coaster year of ups and downs that has left the nation reeling. And the entertainment arena was no exception. The Defender takes a look at the biggest moments that have entertained, empowered, enraged and inspired us.

Megan Thee Stallion, Getty Images, Rich Fury.

Megan Thee Stallion’s very big year

Houston rapper, Megan Thee Stallion had a very good year. In addition to racking up myriad awards and Time covers, Beyoncé collaborations and fashion collections, the TSU student has also broken quite a few records in the past 12 months: most streams for a song in its first week and TikToks most listened to artist of 2020,to name a couple. Then, of course, there was her chart-topping single, “WAP,” with Cardi B, where the pair didn’t hold back with their latest No.1 hit, as they sang about female fierceness while dancing in animal-print outfits. And of course, the move that had everyone talking – how she advocated for Black women on “Saturday Night Live.” The Houston rapper also got four Grammy nods and survived a shooting by rapper Tory Lanez.

Chadwick Boseman. Jason Laveris, Getty Images.

Death of Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman, the actor who played Black American icons Jackie Robinson (“42”) and James Brown (“Get On Up”) before inspiring audiences worldwide in Marvel’s blockbuster “Black Panther,” died Aug. 29 of cancer. He was 43. Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, his family said. Boseman had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis. Born in South Carolina, Boseman graduated from Howard University and had small roles in television before his first-star turn in 2013. His T’Challa character was first introduced in 2016′s “Captain America: Civil War,” and his “Wakanda Forever” salute reverberated around the world after the release of “Black Panther.”

Kanye West. Lauren Petracca Ipetracca, The Post And Courier via AP.

Kanye runs for president

In July, Kanye West announced that he was running for president of the United States as a member of the “Birthday Party.” He kicked off his campaign with a rally in South Carolina that was widely viewed as a disaster as he revealed he and wife, Kim Kardashian West almost aborted their eldest child and admitted Kim might want to divorce him. There was speculation that Kanye was having a bipolar episode, which Kim later all but confirmed. In mid-September, Kanye then unloaded on the music industry, claiming it was a “modern day slave ship.” He began advocating for artists and athletes, especially Black artists, to free themselves from their contracts. He then took his feud to another level, posting a video on Twitter that appears to show him urinating on one of his Grammys.

Idris Elba. Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock .

Celebrities and COVID

When news of the coronavirus first broke, not many people paid attention. Then, Tom Hanks revealed on March 11 that he and wife Rita Wilson had tested positive for COVID-19 while in Australia. A barrage of celebrities followed in those early months with reveals of their own including Idris Elba, Madonna, Pink and more. The pandemic — which shut down productions, closed theaters and ended concerts for months — would heartbreakingly claim the lives of many famous faces too.

Jamie Foxx speaks to a large crowd during a “kneel-in” to protest police racism on the steps of City Hall Monday, June 1, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg).

Celebrities supports racial injustice protests

The killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked outrage throughout the world, and Hollywood’s biggest names joined in the demand to end police brutality and racial injustice. For weeks, celebrities such as Jamie Foxx, Keke Palmer, Porsha Williams, Brad Pitt and many others participated alongside everyday people in peaceful Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations. Several celebrities (Chrissy Teigen, Drake) offered money to bail out protesters who’d been arrested. Meanwhile, others expressed themselves in the media or social media. Jay-Z took out full-page ads in newspapers across the country dedicated to George. Several celebrities participated in June 2’s Instagram “Black Out,” in which users shared blank black screens, a show of support for Black Lives Matter and peaceful protesting. Along with putting Breonna Taylor on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine, Winfrey also pledged to put up 26 billboards in her honor – one for each year of her life.

 

Hollywood hit hard

In February, when the true scope of the coronavirus had yet to establish itself in the Hollywood consciousness, the entertainment industry was “merely” worried about a few hundred million dollars of lost ticket sales in China. As the COVID-19 outbreak began to hit the U.S. in March, closing movie theaters and shutting down production in the process, the possibility of a $20 billion hit loomed large. In the end, the economic toll the pandemic has taken on the entertainment sector was devastating. The global film and television industry is projected to lose a staggering $160 billion of growth over the next five years, according to research firm Ampere Analysis.

 

The Royal Court

In a move that sent shockwaves throughout the world, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan announced in Jan. that they were essentially quitting the royal family, saying they intended to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent.” In other words, they’re no longer living off of taxpayers dollars and can earn a living and speak for themselves moving forward. April 1 was the official “Megxit” day, as it marked the first day of the couple’s royal-free lives. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who said goodbye to protocol with a final run of events in the U.K. in March, lived in Los Angeles — they borrowed mogul Tyler Perry’s mansion for a while — after a few months of renting a home in Canada. Now they’re enjoying their post-royal lives, doing documentaries and working on their new foundation, Archewell.

Jay-Z and Beyonce. Photo by Mason Poole/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock.

The Carters make money moves

Since establishing their [combined net] worth at over $1.4 billion, Jay-Z and Beyoncé have been on a major money-making roll. Beyoncé relaunched her Ivy Park streetwear line with Adidas, selling out in days. She also released the visual album, Black Is King, on Disney+, donated $6 million to coronavirus and mental health causes, $1 million to support Black-owned businesses, and invested in Peloton, the fitness brand. In addition to making music, Jay-Z and his Marcy Venture Partners joined a $42 million fund that invested in the fitness startup called CLIMBR and he became chief visionary officer at TPCO Holding Corp, the largest cannabis company in California.

Jill Scott and Erykah Badu.

The birth of Verzuz

At the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, while various artists were searching for creative ways to give fans live content on Instagram, producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland hit the switch on an idea for a live hit-for-hit song battle series they had been working on since 2017 called Verzuz. From the jump, the concept was successful and has featured 21 contests between 42 artists, earning the franchise millions of views across IG Live and Apple Music. Additionally, many of the performers who participated have seen streams of their music go through the roof after their episode aired.

DJ D-Nice spins Celebrating the Culture Powered by Samsung Galaxy at Avenue on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Maury Phillips/Getty Images for Samsung.

DJ D-Nice Club Quarantine

Because nightclubs, concerts, music festivals and large-scale parties were shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, DJs were largely out of work, losing massive amounts of income. Out of necessity, DJs held live sets all across social media. But when the DJ D-Nice opened the doors to his Club Quarantine on March 18, the game immediately changed. On its biggest night, where over 100,000 people filled up the digital dance floor, celebrities and dignitaries including Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Bernie Sanders and Oprah Winfrey were in attendance, making it the hottest party on the ‘Net.