History was made today after Emma Watson took out the first acting award of it’s kind at the MTV Movie and TV Awards.
Winning the fan-voted award for Best Actor, Emma was up against performers of both genders, including Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen), Hugh Jackman (Logan), James McAvoy (Split), and Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures), taking out the title for her role as Belle in Beauty and the Beast.
The award was presented by Billions star, Asia Kate Dillon, who identifies their gender as non-binary. Asia wrote a letter to the Television Academy earlier this year questioning which category to submit themselves to for the Emmys. The Academy responded stating that Asia could apply for either actress or actor.
Read her thank you speech below!
"Wow. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. 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. 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.
"This is very meaningful to me. Both to be winning the award and to be receiving it from you, Asia [Kate Dillon]. Thank you for educating me in such—in such an inclusive, patient, and loving way. Thank you so much. I think I'm 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 that I did a good job because the whole singing part of the situation was pretty terrifying—yeah, not kidding about that part!
She continued, "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 that 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 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.
"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 have been nominated alongside you. Lastly I want to thank any one 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."