While accepting the award for best actor, actress Emma Watson praised MTV for eliminating gender categories in its acting awards. The star won the award for her role as Belle in the film Beauty and the Beast.
Watson beat out industry veterans like Taraji P. Henson, James McAvoy and Hugh Jackman for the MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Actor in a Movie.
In her acceptance speech, Watson said MTV’s elimination of gender-specific categories “says something about how we perceive the human experience.”
She also thanked Billions star Asia Kate Dillon, who is the first gender non-binary identifying actor cast in a major television series.
“MTV’s move to create a genderless award for acting will mean something different to everyone,” said Watson. “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.”
Speaking of her role as Belle in the film, Watson added, “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 that the world was 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.”
This is the fifth MTV Movie Award for Watson and her fifth nomination.
MTV rebranded its award show this year to include television honorees as well as film performers. The network also eliminated gender-specific categories, and instead, pooled actors and actresses together for awards.