Emma Watson may just be one of the most eloquent and inspiring young actors of our time.
At last night’s MTV Movie & TV Awards, the 27-year-old took home the “Best Actor” popcorn for her moving performance in “Beauty and the Beast” as Belle. It was a history setting achievement, as this year, MTV decided to do away with separate gender based categories and actually included all acting nominees in one category.
It means Watson did not only win an acting accolade, she also won the first ever gender-neutral award.
An outspoken advocate of women's rights, Watson used her acceptance speech to highlight the importance of inclusion and the need to get rid of gender-based discrimination.
“Firstly, I feel I have to say something about the award itself. The first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex says something about how we perceive the human experience,” Watson, a women’s rights activist and U.N. ambassador, began. “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. Empathy and the ability to use your imagination should have no limits.”
The “Harry Potter” alum also thanked non-binary actor Asia Kate Dillon for presenting her with the award and for educating her “in such an inclusive, patient and loving way.” Though given this award for her performance as an actor, Watson also made a quip about her singing in the movie, recalling how “terrifying” it was.
Watson then went on to describe what the role of Belle represents.
“More seriously, I think I’m being given this award because of who Belle is and what she represents. The villagers in our fairytale wanted to make Belle believe the world was smaller than the way that she saw it — with fewer opportunities for her,” she added. “That her curiosity and passion for knowledge and her desire for more in life were grounds for alienation. 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.”
To finish it all off, the actor thanked Linda Woolverton for writing the original Belle and Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont, who wrote the story the animated movie was based on. She also thanked Paige O’hara for playing Belle in the original and her fellow nominees.
Watch the entire speech in the video above.