Watson was presented with the award by Billions star Aja Kate Dillon, the first gender non-binary actor to play a non-binary character on a major television show.
"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 in her emotional acceptance speech. "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. This is very meaningful to me, both to be winning the award, and to be receiving it from you, Aja," she continued, breaking her speech to hug Dillon. "Thank you for educating me in such an inclusive, patient and loving way. Thank you so much."
Watson went on to state that though she won the award for acting, she felt like the honor was given to her "because of who Belle is, and what she represents."
"The villagers in our fairy tale wanted to make Belle believe that her world was smaller than the way she saw it, with fewer opportunities for her, that her curiosity and passion for knowledge and desire for more in life were grounds for alienation. I loved playing someone who didn't listen to any of that," she said. "I am so proud to be a part of a film that celebrates diversity, literacy, inclusion, joy and love the way that this one does."
"I want to thank every single person who voted for me. Thank you so much. Taraji [P. Henson], I can't see you, but Daniel [Kaluuya], James [McAvoy], Hailee [Steinfeld], all of you, it's a privilege to have been nominated alongside you," she shared. "Lastly, I want to thank anyone and everyone who had anything to do with giving me this opportunity and supporting me on this journey. You know who you are, and I can't thank you enough. Thank you so, so much."