Actress and activist Emma Watson set the tone for the evening as she accepted the Best Actor award for her role in “Beauty and the Beast.” Watson cheered MTV for dropping its gendered acting categories, agreeing that male and female actors don’t “need to be separated into two different categories.”
”MTV’s move to create a genderless award for acting will mean something different to everyone, but to me it indicates that acting is about the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes ― and that doesn’t need to be separated into two different categories,” Watson said. “Empathy, and the ability to use your imagination, should have no limits.”
Watson also expressed admiration for her “Beauty and the Beast” character, Belle, saying the Best Actor award was for “who Belle is and what she represent[s].”
“The village in our fairytale wanted to make Belle believe that our world was smaller than the way she saw it — that her curiosity and her passion for knowledge were grounds for alienation,” Watson added. “I loved playing someone who didn’t listen to any of that. I’m so proud to be a part of a film that celebrates diversity, literacy, inclusion, joy, and love the way that this one does.”
”Beauty and the Beast” director Bill Condon echoed his star’s sentiments later on in the evening as he accepted the award for Movie of the Year.
“Thank you to the audience that embraced this movie so much, but especially to the women,” Condon said. “Women have proven that they are a huge and powerful audience, and it’s going to change the movie business.”
”Lastly, I want to thank the Duffer brothers,” Brown said. “They’ve created a badass, female, iconic character that I’ve got the honor to play.”
Amen to that.
Perhaps the most feminist moment of the night came when U.S. congresswoman Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and “Blackish” actor Tracee Ellis Ross presented “Hidden Figures” with the prize for Best Fight Against The System. Taraji P. Henson accepted the award with a truly moving speech, saying she felt the film was her “mission.”
“This movie was bigger than all of us,” Henson said. “We understood that this is a part of history that needed to be re-implemented into the blood and veins of American history. For me, it was very important because I grew up with an understanding — no one ever told me that girls couldn’t do math and science, but there was an understanding. There was an understanding that it was for boys.”
She continued, “I remember getting this script and being very upset, because it felt like a dream was stolen from me. And it became my mission, and everyone’s mission who was involved with this film, to dispel that myth, so that another young girl would not grow up thinking that her mind wasn’t capable of grasping math and science.”
We don’t know about you, but we’re feeling like we could pretty much take over the world right now. More speeches like this ― and fewer like this ― please.