The Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” took home the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Documentary on Monday night, giving viewers an emotional moment as women who have accused the rapper of sexual assault took the stage to accept it.
Lifetime’s Brie Miranda Bryant gave a powerful speech with documentary stars Asante McGee, Lisa Van Allen and Lizette Martinez at her side.
“This team believes in the power of numbers. 54 individuals sat to tell this story. Entire production teams assembled their shields to tell this story. Survivors walked through the fire and then stood again to tell this story. And parents share the hell that they still stand in to tell this story. Around the world and to millions of people, six months later we are still standing in this room telling this story.” said Bryant, before taking a second to pause.
Martinez cried oout beside Bryant, overwhelmed with emotion.
“To our survivors and parents, we know the journey does not start or stop with this documentary, but the world is listening now,” Bryant went on.
“Because of your bravery, other girls and boys and women and men are now speaking without shame and being heard without judgment. Because of your courage, you created change and you survived. So, thank you,” she added.
The documentary series came on the heels of years of reporting that covered the sexual assault allegations waged against R. Kelly, some of which involved underage girls. Kelly has repeatedly denied the claims, but after the documentary aired, new legal action was set in motion.
In February, Kelly was charged in Chicago with 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse. He pled not guilty earlier this month to 11 additional sex-related charges, including four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, which carriesa maximum prison term of 30 years. These counts add up to four times as long as the maximum term for each of the 10 counts Kelly was originally charged with earlier this year, according to the Associated Press.
Outside of the courtroom, many have spoken out about Kelly on social media, and there have growing calls to stop playing and promoting his music.
McGee, Van Allen and Martinez talked to ET Online on the red carpet before the awards show and expressed the impact of the documentary on their lives.
“It’s been liberating to know how many people we’ve touched and how many victims have come forward because of the docu-series and just knowing that justice will soon be served,” said McGee. “I just want all of his victims to continue coming forward, do not be silent. And, for me, it’s not just about R. Kelly. It’s about victims that are being victimized by everyday people. So I just want everybody to be able to come forward and I just want to be the voice for the voices.”
Van Allen said that none of them thought “any of this would happen,” but that they “just really prayed and hoped that our voices would be heard and that the industry and the world would listen up.”
Martinez chimed in to say that it was a “great thing” for them to “finally be recognized and be taken seriously and for people to listen.
“I just want him to be held accountable,” she added.