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2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards: Emma Watson Wins First Genderless Award

"Empathy and the ability to use your imagination should have no limits."

Emma Watson won the first genderless acting award at the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards on Sunday night. As she accepted the award, the 27-year-old gave an emotional speech about why getting rid of gendered categories was so meaningful to her.

“The first acting award in history that doesn't separate nominees based on their sex says something about how we perceive the human experience,” Watson said.

“MTV's move to create a genderless award for acting will mean something different to everyone. 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. Empathy and the ability to use your imagination should have no limits.”

The awards show announced last month that it would lump male and female actors into the same categories for the first time this year. Watson — who won for her role as Belle in Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast” — beat out a number of commendable actors, including Taraji P. Henson, Hugh Jackman and James McAvoy.

While Watson acknowledged that the award was meant to credit her acting ability, she believed it was her role as Belle that was the real reason behind her big win.

“I think I'm being given this award for a performance as an actor, but it doesn't feel like that's what it's really for,” she said. “More seriously, I think I'm being given this award because of who Belle is and what she represented. The village in our fairytale wanted to make Belle believe that our world was smaller than the way she saw it

— that her curiosity and her passion for knowledge 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.”

Belle has always been one of Disney’s most independent "princesses," but the live-action adaptation made the character even more empowering and feminist by making her an inventor, rather than her father.

It makes sense that Watson was given the first gender neutral award of the night, as the actress has always been an advocate for feminism and gender equality.

In addition to Watson, “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown won the only other genderless acting award for Best Actor in a TV Show. Brown beat out stars such as Emilia Clarke in “Game of Thrones,” Donald Glover in “Atlanta” and Mandy Moore in “This Is Us.”

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