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Maxine Waters and Tracee Ellis Ross at the MTV Awards

The first-ever MTV Movie & TV Awards took place last night, and featured a handful of memorable moments highlighting gender and racial diversity. Here’s a list of the most feminist moments that went down last night, hopefully signifying more progressive award shows in the years to come.

1. The Nonbinary Acting Award 


For the first time ever, MTV’s award show created a single gender-neutral acting category, open to both male and female actors. Asia Kate Dillon, the first openly nonbinary actor to play a nonbinary character on a major TV show (Billions), presented Emma Watson with the Best Actor in a Movie Award for her role in Beauty and the Beast last night.

2. Maxine Waters & Tracee Ellis Ross Announcing the Winner of the “Best Fight Against The System” Award


Any time Congresswoman Maxine Waters hits our TV screens, we’re always in for a real treat, given her unique way of speaking truth to power with a side of much-needed shade. Last night, Waters, along with Tracee Ellis Ross, came on stage to announce to announce the winner of the Best Fight Against The System award, which went to Hidden Figures.

Related: Loved “Hidden Figures?” Here Are 12 More Movies and TV Shows With Women in STEM

Ross began by saying, “I will take this moment to go off script and say, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, thank you. Thank you for your work. Thank you for your voice and how you use it. And thank you for being an extraordinary example for all of us, especially in these times.”

Waters hugged and kissed her and thanked her back. “Artists, actors, singers, and citizens have a unique ability to speak out and inspire change,” Waters said before introducing the nominees, each of which “pushes back against the bullies, and uses their platform to inspire us all.” Ross followed up by explaining how the award examines how “honest, well-told stories lead to important discussions, lead to understanding, and can lead to a changed nation.”

3. Taraji P. Henson’s Speech for Hidden Figures’ Win 


Henson gave an impassioned speech urging young girls to be fearless in science and math as well as honoring Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, whose contributions to the NASA program made it possible for us to be space in now.

“This movie was bigger than all of us. For me, it was very important because I grew up with an understanding — no one ever told me that girls couldn’t do math and science, but there was an understanding. There was an understanding that it was for boys. I remember getting this script and being very upset, because it felt like a dream was stolen from me. And it became my mission, and everyone’s mission who was involved with this film, to dispel that myth, so that another young girl would not grow up thinking that her mind wasn’t capable of grasping math and science. If it were not for these women, we wouldn’t be in space.”

4. Moonlight Winning for Best Kiss


Moonlight, the coming-of-age film about a gay black man’s journey of self-acceptance, was awarded with the Best Kiss Award, which was accepted by the movie’s stars, Jharrel Jerome and Ashton Sanders.

In a moving acceptance speech, Jerome said: “On a real note, I think it is safe to say that it is OK for us young performers — especially us minority performers — to step outside the box. I think it’s okay to step out of the box and do whatever it takes to tell the story and make a change.” He received a round of applause and cheers from the audience. “This award is bigger than Jharrel and I. This represents more than a kiss. This is for those who feel like the others, the misfits; this represents us,” Sanders added.

5. RuPaul’s Drag Race Winning Best Reality Competition


Drag superstar RuPaul took away the award for “Best Reality Competition” for RuPaul’s Drag Race at the awards show last night, too.


Nazly is a Persian-Venezuelan organizer, writer and trauma informed yoga teacher who has worked in various communities in the US, Latin America and the Middle East. She is fluent in Spanish, Farsi & Arabic and is a classically trained violinist. Nazly is also the founder of La Feminista Descolonial, a Spanish-language intersectional feminista platform designed to spark activism & facilitate dialogue in various Spanish speaking communities from an anti capitalist, anti racist, anti oppressive & decolonized perspective. Nazly is determined to unapologetically exist and resist in the world while grounding her work in transformative practices in order to lay the foundation for global movement building.

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