Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Emma Watson makes history with her gender-neutral award acceptance speech

emma-watson-gender-neutral-mtv-movie-award-acceptance-speech-beauty-beast-2017.jpg

Emma Watson was declared Best Actor in a Movie at the MTV Movie & TV Awards on Sunday night, for her role in Beauty and the Beast.

The award – the first major gong Watson has received for her starring role as Belle – was a personally significant one for the 27-year-old actor. But as the first gender-neutral acting award in history, it also represented a ground-breaking moment for awards ceremonies in general.

Watson was up against Taraji P. Henson, Daniel Kaluuya, James McAvoy and Hailee Steinfeld for the “gender-free” Best Actor award, for their roles in Hidden Figures, Get Out, Split and The Edge of Seventeen respectively.

In an emotional acceptance speech, Watson paid tribute to the philosophy behind her MTV Movie award.

“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,” she said.

“It says something about how we perceive the human experience.”

emma watson

Emma Watson onstage with Beauty and the Beast co-star Josh Gadd at the MTV Movie & TV Awards.

Watson continued: “MTV’s move to create a genderless award for acting will mean something different for 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.”


Read more: Should single-sex schools be more gender-neutral?


The Beauty and the Beast actor was presented with the award by Asia Kate Dillon, who plays “genderqueer” character Taylor Mason in TV show Billions. Dillon was born female but identifies as non-binary, and made headlines earlier this year when they submitted their name for an Emmy Award in the ‘Actor’ rather than ‘Actress’ category, because the former is a more gender-neutral word.

In her acceptance speech, Watson singled out Dillon for praise, saying: “This is very meaningful for me both to be winning the award and to be receiving it from you, Asia.

“Thank you for educating me in such an inclusive, patient and loving way.”

emma watson

Emma Watson accepting her Best Actor in a Movie award from Asia Kate Dillon on Sunday night.

UN ambassador Watson spoke extensively in the run-up to Beauty and the Beast’s release about her desire to make Belle a more “feminist” Disney princess. During her acceptance speech, she said that she thought she had been given the 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,” said Watson.


Read more: Want to be a writer? JK Rowling has these words of wisdom for you


“I loved playing someone who didn’t listen to any of that,” she continued.

“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.”

Millie Bobby Brown was the first actor to win a gender-neutral Best Actor in a Show award, for her role as Eleven in Netflix’s hit sci-fi mystery series Stranger Things. In her acceptance speech, the 13-year-old British actor thanked the show’s creators for creating “a badass female iconic character that I’ve got the honour to play.”

millie bobby brown

Best Actor in a Show winner Millie Bobby Brown (far right) with the rest of the Stranger Things cast at the MTV Movie & TV Awards.

With the inevitability of the sun rising in the east and all the nuance of the Kool-Aid man crashing through a wall, Piers Morgan was quick to cast aspersions over MTV’s introduction of gender-neutral awards.

Speaking on This Morning on Monday, the TV presenter – who unwittingly emulates Grandpa Simpson yelling at a cloud on a daily basis – Morgan said: “‘Should we ban the word man from life itself? Should nothing anymore be male or female?”

piers

Piers Morgan (pictured with co-hosts Charlotte Hawkins and Susanna Reid) had a predictably tiresome take on Watson's win on Good Morning Britain.

“Little babies just be little babies, no longer boys and girls?” Morgan continued. “Should it all just be ended? Should we end gender as we know it? Is it the end of gender?”

It was an interestingly neurotic take from a man known for accusing those he disagrees with of “hysteria” and “overreaction” – but Morgan did also display a heretofore unseen capacity for self-reflection.

“Am I wrong?” he asked. “Is it just me, or am I a creaking old dinosaur that doesn’t get it?”

We’ll let you be the judge of that one.

Images: Rex Features

Related

emma watson.jpg

Emma Watson has an idea for a Beauty And The Beast sequel

abmy8989_rt.jpg

Denise Gough talks stage acting, complex roles and money

Stranger-Things-Eleven-Millie-Bobby-Brown.jpg

Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown just wants one thing in Season Two

Comments

More

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Gal Gadot's star-studded take-off to Helen Mirren's holiday snaps

by Nicola Colyer
26 Jul 2017

That viral Tinder couple just met for the first time on live TV

Watch their sweet-yet-awkward rendezvous

by Anna Brech
26 Jul 2017

Men earn more so they can support their wife and kids, says BBC actor

Tom Chambers has apologised for his controversial comments

by Moya Crockett
26 Jul 2017

Why Kristen Stewart and her girlfriend crashed a stranger’s wedding

What were Stewart and Stella Maxwell doing in Winnipeg, Canada?

by Moya Crockett
26 Jul 2017

Chrissy Teigen just got blocked by President Trump on Twitter

This is what she said to push him over the edge…

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Jul 2017

Susan Sarandon’s life advice for these dark and troubled times

The actor reveals her pearls of wisdom to Stylist

by Helen Bownass
25 Jul 2017

Lucy Mangan: we should “think twice” before considering porn harmless

“Porn has become normalised, placed almost beyond criticism by its sheer prevalence”

by Lucy Mangan
25 Jul 2017

Sue Perkins on the moment she fell in friend-love with Mel Giedroyc

The Bake Off star has a beautiful point to make about platonic friendships

by Amy Swales
24 Jul 2017

Princes William and Harry reveal the last words they spoke to Diana

“That phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily.”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Jul 2017

Pirelli’s all-black 2018 calendar makes a statement about inclusivity

The tyre manufacturer aims to continue shaking off its reputation with a beautiful fairy-tale shoot

by Amy Swales
21 Jul 2017