Janelle Monáe Critics Choice Awards 2023 Seeher Award Speech

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It is my honor to present the see her award, the one and the only Janelle Monáe.

Hi, guys. Kate, I love you so much. You are a sister. You are a force. And thank you for your time. I’m Janelle Monáe and my pronouns are she, her, they, them. But to her. Act mother figure like my character Teresa to an abandoned LGBTQIA plus person because the family they were born into won’t accept them.

I see you to her working in stem, like Mary Jackson, whose brilliant mind continues to advance the technology of this world, yet you’re still fighting for equal pay. I see you. To the school teacher, like Helen. Risking your life every day to teach our kids because we. We still can’t get gun control.

Together in this country, I see you. To her with big ideas like Andy. Who constantly has to deal with billionaire douchebags with no original ideas, parading around as genius? I see you. These are just a few of the characters I’ve had the honor of playing, and I’ve tried to make an effort in my work, whether it’s storytelling through music, through film, through TV, through fashion, through literature, to highlight the ones who have been pushed to the margins of society, who’ve been outcast or relegated to the other. This is a deeply personal choice for me because I grew up to working class parents. My mother was a janitor, my father was a trash man, and my grandmother was a sharecropper in Aberdeen, Ms. and it’s personal because I am nonbinary, I’m queer and my identity influences my decisions and my work.

I’ve always believed that through storytelling we are able to shed light on a human experience. An experience that most people around this world won’t get an opportunity to see. And I kind of keep this this glimmer of hope in my heart that when someone meets a character like the ones I’ve I’ve had an opportunity to play, you’d be more empathetic to their experience, more empathy. Will be given. You want to be more like him. You want to be more kind, less judgmental.

And more eager to advocate for them. And there were many times I, you know, to sit up here. I know I’m dressed up and ah, all of that. But there was so many times in my life, y’all where I did not see me. I couldn’t see my light. I couldn’t see past my circumstances. If you know my story, I wasn’t supposed to make it out of Kansas City, KS, and be here tonight. I wasn’t. I didn’t see the vision. Clearly, for myself, I couldn’t see my gift. I couldn’t see what my purpose was supposed to be at that time.

But thank you God, so many other people did. They didn’t give up on me. And they gave me opportunities despite my own lack of confidence. I was faking it till I made it. So to anyone out there like me watching right now, I just want you to know that I see you, but I challenge you to see you. Thank you to see her, and thank you to the Critics Choice Association for recognizing me. I stand in the biggest puddle of gratitude and for making me the recipient of the 2023 see her award. Thank you.

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