After a heartfelt introduction by her “Girls Trip” co-star Tiffany Haddish, who made note of the actress’ philanthropic work, and a few shoutouts from friends Alicia Keys and Queen Latifah, Pinkett Smith took the stage with her son, Jaden.
At the top of her speech, Pinkett Smith admitted that she initially didn’t think she was deserving of the honor.
“It’s a trip, because when MTV called me to receive an award for trailblazing, I was like, ‘I don’t know if I deserve this quite yet,’” she said on stage. “But then I had to think — I said, ‘Jada, why don’t you think you deserve this award?’ And it was because I was comparing myself to all the many trailblazers that I admire.”
Past recipients of the award include Lena Waithe, Channing Tatum, Shailene Woodley and Emma Stone.
But after quieting the voices in her head, Pinkett Smith said she realized that blazing trails is something we all have in common, even if it’s not immediately apparent.
“Often we applaud the trails people blaze in the external world that we can see, but very rarely do we applaud the trails that are blazed in the hidden rooms of the mind that are full of uncertainty, false beliefs and pain,” she continued. “And it’s these internal obstacles that must be challenged in order to muster the courage to forge new paths that we can see in the world.”
“So that means that every single person in this room is trailblazing, whether it’s within or without,” she said, concluding her speech. “So as you honor me tonight, I want to honor all of you.”
Pinkett Smith has received tremendous praise in recent years for her community activism and raising awareness of important issues, including mental health, sex education, martial strife and more. She discusses the topics on her Facebook talk show with co-hosts daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris.
A recent episode of the show featuring a highly anticipated interview with model Jordyn Woods set a new record for the streaming service, becoming the most-watched original episode ever within the first day of its release.