Zendaya Empowers and Inspires in Critics’ Choice SeeHer Speech

Making her mark. Zendaya gave an emotional speech while accepting the 2021 Critics’ Choice Awards SeeHer honor on Sunday, March 7. John David Washington, who stars alongside the actress in Malcom & Marie, presented the award to the star.

“Thank you so much to John David Washinton,” Zendaya, 24, began her speech. “I’m Incredibly lucky to have you as a friend and also as a scene partner. This means so much to me.”

The Euphoria star explained the best word to describe the honor was “gratitude,” saying, “This word just keeps coming to my mind. Especially with the year everyone has had. To continue to be grateful for every single moment, big and small. To be grateful for the people in our world and in our life that make the work we do possible.”

The Greatest Showman actress continued: “Make sure we hold onto our loved ones a little bit tighter. Make sure we call them, acknowledge them, tell them we love them. And take in moments like this.”

Zendaya. Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

She concluded by giving a shout-out to the women who’ve inspired her. “I would absolutely not be here if it weren’t for the incredible women who paved the way for me to be here. So, also extremely grateful for those women. This is very, very special. Thank you so, so much. I am incredibly grateful for this moment.”

Zendaya — who is no stranger to breaking barriers and became the youngest star to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series at the 2020 Emmys — was announced as the SeeHer recipient last month.

The award is given to a woman who embodies the values set forth by the SeeHer movement, in a press release on February 17.

“We are delighted to be presenting the award to Zendaya, who is such a strong representation of what it means to be a woman in 2021,” SeeHer president Nadine Karp McHugh said in a statement at the time. “One of the busiest rising stars in Hollywood — with a generation of Disney Channel fans, Marvel devotees and Euphoria evangelists — she is a role model and leading voice of her generation.” (Kristen Bell was given the honor in 2020.)

McHugh also pointed out how Zendaya has become an activist for Black women in Hollywood. “She is showing the next generation that you are never too young to use your voice to make a difference,” she said. “Inspiring girls everywhere to see themselves in their full potential, Zendaya represents everything SeeHer is.”

The same month, the Spider-Man: Homecoming actress earned praise on social media after she corrected a gendered question during a Vanity Fair interview on February 23.

While participating in the magazine’s “Proust Questionnaire” video series, Zendaya was asked, “What is the quality you most like in a man?” to which she quickly said, “Most like in a person? How ‘bout that?”

She continued: “I would say kindness is kind of not the best way to describe it, but some people are just good people and you can just feel it.”

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