Emma Watson won the award for best actor in a movie at the MTV Movie and TV Awards in LA on Sunday night, and her acceptance speech was truly wonderful. After nonbinary actor Asia Kate Dillon presented Emma with the award for her role as Belle in Beauty and the Beast, the English star took the stage to talk to the audience and her fans around the world about inclusion, love, and gender issues. Read her speech below.
"The first acting award in history that doesn't separate nominees based on their sex says something about how we perceive the human experience. 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. This is very meaningful to me, both to be winning the award, and to be receiving it from you, Asia; thank you for educating me in such an inclusive, loving way. Thank you so much. I think I am being given this award for a performance as an actor, but it doesn't feel like that what it's really for — although I am very grateful if you did think I did a good job, which is — the whole singing part of the situation was pretty terrifying — not kidding about that part.
But more seriously, I think I am being given this award because of who Belle is and what she represents. The villagers in our fairy tale wanted to make Belle believe the world is smaller than the way she saw it with fewer opportunities for her — that her curiosity and passion for knowledge and her desire for more in life were ground for alienation. I loved playing someone who didn't listen to any of that. I'm so proud to be part of a film that celebrates diversity, literacy, inclusion, joy, and love the way that this one does.
I want to thank Linda Woolverton for writing the original Belle, Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont for writing what the animated movie was based on, and Paige O'Hara for playing Belle in the original. And I want to thank every single person who voted for me. Thank you so much. Taraji [P. Henson], I can't see you, but Daniel [Kaluuya], James [McAvoy], Hailee [Steinfeld], all of you, it's a privilege to be nominated alongside you. Lastly I want to thank anyone and everyone who had anything to do with giving me this opportunity, and for supporting me on that journey. You know who you are, and I can't thank you enough. Thank you so, so much."