Charlize Theron gave an incredible speech when she accepted her Glamour 2019 Woman of the Year Award on Monday night—and it should be required reading.
The actor, who's set to appear in the upcoming movie Bombshell, took the stage at New York's Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on Monday, November 11.
She was introduced by her Bombshell costar Kate McKinnon, who told the audience about the first time she was captivated by Theron—her Oscar-winning performance in Monster—and what it was like to share the stage with her on Saturday Night Live.
"For some reason I was asked to introduce Charlize Theron at this Glamour event, which is sort of like a bridge troll being asked to introduce a queen, but trolls love snacks and green rooms, so here I am," McKinnon joked. "What can be said about Charlize Theron, a person whose Helen of Troy-esque, ship-launching face is absolutely the least remarkable thing about her? A person whose real-life badass-ness makes her character from Mad Max: Fury Road look lazy and selfish? A person so grand that when you meet her, it only feels right to get on the floor—but who is so nice and normal that you end up just kind of doing a little curtsey?"
McKinnon continued, “In my mind, the finest screen performance of all time is Charlize in Monster. A performance filled with so much compassion and so much humanity that I found myself thinking, one, My God, the pain of so many women in this world is so overwhelming that I can’t even move; and two, My God, I want someone to make out with me outside of a roller rink. Charlize’s finest screen work came in 2014, of course, when we did an SNL sketch together about two ladies working in a cat shelter, a sketch that would go on to win a BAFTA. But seriously, she kind of swooped in and turned a bunch of cat jokes into a fully-fleshed-out drama dynamic, and for that I owe her so much.”
McKinnon concluded with insight into their time together filming Bombshell. “What I owe her everything for is getting to be a part of her latest incredibly important film, Bombshell. Where she not only transforms into Megyn Kelly but she embodies every nuance of a horrifying and horrifyingly common situation, which is the Goliath that women face when they choose to come forward about sexual harassment. But these kinds of revelatory roles have become par for the course for Charlize. In whatever she does, she always stands for bravery, risk, and making tough choices. She does it as an actor, as a producer, an activist, a philanthropist, and a mom. And that’s what makes her a Glamour Woman of the Year."
Naturally, Theron's speech was as inspiring as her work. Read it, below:
“What a night. I’m a mess, there’s nothing ‘Glamour’ about my face anymore. You all fucked me up in the most beautiful way. Thank you, Kate, for doing this. For asking me to be your cat lady. It’s been a privilege to work with someone so incredibly funny and talented. That is, until the day you do an impression of me in a celebrity game show sketch…then you’re dead to me.
“I also want to thank Sam and everybody from Glamour. It is an incredible honor to be named Woman of the Year when this is the kind of company I get to keep. Ava, Yara, Megan, Tory, Margaret, Greta, Erika, Lucia, Andrea, Mayra,…a thousand times I say yes, every time.
“We’re all in this together. All of us. There’s nothing we can't do.”
“I’m sure you’re all feeling this powerful, female alchemy in the room tonight. And if you don’t feel changed or enlightened by what we’ve heard on this stage, then maybe you got your invite through some kind of clerical error. Or you’re dead inside.
“It’s clear to me that my job as a storyteller—whether I’m acting or producing or talking to my kids at night before bed—is to create as much empathy as I can. Especially right now. And I’m talking about more than just the feeling you get when you look at Oprah’s Instagram feed. Although believe me, that does a pretty good job at filling the void these days. Have you seen her holding vegetables that she grows in her garden? It’s like Xanax.
“But I’m off topic here. The point is we need to help the hard-hearted to empathize with others. Like sexual assault survivors, people living with AIDS, our trans community, children who are different or who have special needs. The women in this room tonight are putting themselves on the front line of the empathy battle, be it through storytelling, creating opportunities for those that need it most, or just unabashedly being yourself and telling other women we don’t have to apologize for who and what we are. I’m looking at you, Megan. [Gestures at hair.] This is all you. Every single one of you inspires the hell out of me with the work you’re doing. When I was 16, I was begging my mom to let me go on a date, and Greta is trying to convince us to not let our earth go up in flames. And Yara’s helping people vote. I’m fucking useless. The women of RAICES, you are working tirelessly at a job that should never even have to exist. You shouldn’t have to do this, and yet here you are providing support and basic human rights to a group of people that deserve just as much freedom and security as the rest of us.
“By telling our diverse, fascinating, complicated stories, we turn on a universal empathy filter. One that removes all the impurities we’re fighting: racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and anything else you might see in pretty much any White House briefing. Or unfortunately every time our president opens his mouth.
“So tell your story. Be proud of it. Don’t worry about everyone liking you. It’s impossible. Wash your face, even when you're really tired at night. Take risks. Radiate empathy like you’ve got a tap of it. Fight for change. Because it’s people, especially girls, who have the power to create change. And speaking of girls, that’s why I do all of it. For my girls, Jackson and Auggie. They’re the reason I’ll never stop fighting. And to my mom, thank you for being the example me and my girls can follow. Fuck! The kids have gone? Right? My mom will be my Woman of the Year until the end of time.
“We’re all in this together. All of us. There’s nothing we can't do. And I’m here to back you guys. That's it, thank you.”
In her interview for the 2019 Women of the Year issue, Theron talked to Glamour about what success means to her. “Well, it definitely doesn’t mean box office. If you’re going to do it, let it be on something that actually means something to you.
“I love that I work in an industry where something can come tomorrow and change the next six months of my life and make me think about things that I would never have explored on my own, and all of a sudden, you’re reading about shit you would never have been interested in before,” she said.
Find out more about Glamour’s 2019 Women of the Year here.
Originally Appeared on Glamour