‘His Ego Is Hurt’: Taraji P Henson Slams Keith Lee’s Dramatic Response Following BET Awards Mix-Up, Claims He Was In the Wrong Seat for Impromptu Flirt Session

Social media food critic Keith Lee is catching flak for his response to Taraji P. Henson‘s big pickup at the 2024 BET Awards.

The Oscar-nominated actress hosted the annual awards show for the third time on Sunday, June 30, and seemed to scuff one of the audience influencer’s timbs.

In a skit, where Henson walked through the assembly and gave out roses to random celebrities seated in the front orchestra,  she accidentally offended one of the most powerful men in the urban food space. She confused TikTok star Jordan Howlett with Lee.

keith lee taraji p. henson bet awards
Keith Lee addresses criticism over Taraji P. Henson mistaking him for someone else at the BET Awards and flirting in front of his wife. (Photos by @keith_lee125/Instagram; Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

During the live broadcast, Henson approached Howlett, whom she referred to as a “Method Man look-alike,” and asked, “Meth is married — are you?”

As the young man squirmed but played along with the awkward filler bit, things took a more bizarre turn when the 53-year-old addressed Howlett as “Mr. Keith Lee.” She said, “I know what you’re thinking right now, this is about a 10.9 outta 10?”

The mix-up became apparent when Howlett pointed to Lee, who was seated two seats away with his wife, Ronni. Embarrassed, Henson apologized, saying, “I got caught up in my own inner monologue, I’m so sorry.” She then attempted to lighten the moment by calling Lee “fine, too” in front of his wife.

Later in the evening, Lee shared a response to the matter on his TikTok page. The former MMA fighter recorded himself dropping the rose at his foot.

The caption of the post, “Our name will be known in every room it’s supposed to be, when it’s supposed to be, how it supposed, with no confusion. God is Amazing [prayer emoji hands] #thankful.”

The clip has since been deleted. The Neighborhood Talk caught a screen grab of the video before he took it down and posted it for its 1.9 million followers to weigh in with mixed opinions.

“Corny” one person said, “Especially after she closed out the show sending a sincere Apology.”

Some thought Lee was corny for making the post, “Ewwwwwwwaaaaaaaaa he literally pulled his phone from his pocket, press the camera app, recording him dropping the rose, opened tiktok, uploaded the video with a caption & watch it load to upload lmaooooooo.”

Another said, “Sir you do food reviews.. stop being so dramatic.”

Others focused on how embarrassed he might have been with her flirting, “He did right! HAPPY WIFE HAPPY LIFE!!! Y’all bugging.”

“I think people forget that maybe he was embarrassed too,” one person said in his defense. “It was on national tv and it was awkward as hell. She didn’t know who he was and flirted with him in front of his wife. Production needs to think about these things before having the host do it because production told her to do this. His response TO ME isn’t directly at Taraji but at whoever told her to do it.”

Rapper and reality star Lil Scrappy also chimed in with words to Lee. “It was an honest mistake my boy,” he said in an Instagram post that was reposted by Hollywood Unlocked. “Happens to us all, but on the real your name known for being a food critic and it worked but we gotta be better at recognizing and respecting our people it works both way.”

More than a few fans rushed to Taraji’s defense.

“If only yall knew how live TV works.. she probably had people in her ear giving instructions at the same time..camera crew positioning her in the moment…it’s not easy…slow down on Ms. Taraji,” one person said in the star’s defense.

Someone else said, “Taraji is an a-list celebrity who thought the other guy was you… relax. Ain’t nobody come to see you Otis.”

Henson remained quiet on the matter until the evening of July 2.

In response to Lee dropping the rose in his video, she said, “Life really is too short for this behavior. He wasn’t in his seat. They give celebrity assigned seats. I rehearsed all damn day to go hit my mark and that young man wasn’t in his seat so he MISSED HIS Moment! His ego is hurt. He will be fine. I cleaned it up at the end of the show. No lost lost here.”

Following the criticism online, Lee returned to add context to why he threw down the rose in a separate video on his TikTok page. He began by stating, “I am not upset at Henson” for mistaking him for someone else and gave her a compliment.

“In my opinion, she smoked it last night. I don’t think for one second Taraji had any ill will or any ill intentions behind the situation. The situation happened the way it did. It is what it is.”

Lee noted that the reason he dropped the rose in the video had nothing to do with Taraji.

“I wholeheartedly believe. That wasn’t my rose. That wasn’t my moment. It was given to me but it wasn’t mine,” he said. “As I always say, I don’t want nothing that ain’t mine. I want what’s meant for me. Nothing less, nothing more.”

Lee then blamed production for pulling him and his wife from their original seats and placing them in the front row and giving Henson “no direction about who we are and what we do felt extremely unprepared and unprofessional to me.”

“The entire segment on the production side felt extremely rushed,” he continued. “Not only did it feel rushed it did not feel intentional. It did not feel purposeful.”

He added later, “It was unfair to both of us.”

The TikTok star also addressed criticism about a screengrab of his wife’s face, which shows her with a scrunched-up face, leaving many to assume “she had an attitude with Taraji” for seemingly flirting with her husband in front of her.

“My wife and myself understand the flirting that Taraji was doing was fully improv and fully a joke,” he explained. “It was a hard situation for all of us to be in and we fully understand that she made it up on the fly.”

Lee concluded his video by reiterating that he appreciates BET for the invite but he wishes “they would have set us up both for more success in that situation.”

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