The 'Malcolm & Marie' actress was given the award by her co-star, John David Washington.
Zendaya was the queen of the night at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards on Sunday. In addition to being nominated for Best Actress for her role in Malcolm & Marie, the 24-year-old actress also became the fifth recipient of the SeeHer Award.
Zendaya was presented with the award by her co-star, John David Washington, during the ceremony, who introduced the honor by reflecting on their time together filming the romantic drama.
"What stood out to me the most, beyond her incredible talent, was her wisdom and her discernment," Washington reflected. "At 24 years old, Zendaya is already a formidable actor, but she's also a formidable force for good."
"I'm going to start by saying thank you so much to John David Washington. I'm incredibly lucky to have you as a friend, but also a scene partner," Zendaya said, while holding the trophy, which recognizes her work as both an actress and an activist. "Thank you to the Critics Choice Association for this incredible honor and SeeHer. This means so much to me."
Zendaya explained that, as she was thinking of what to say in her speech, the one word that kept resurfacing was "gratitude."
"This word kind of keeps coming to my mind, especially with the year that everyone has had," Zendaya shared, explaining she feels it's important to "continue to be grateful for every single moment, big and small."
"To be grateful for the people in our world and in our life, that make the work we do possible, to continue to make sure we hold on to our loved ones a little bit tighter, make sure we call them, acknowledge them, and tell them we love them," she continued. "And take in moments like this."
"I absolutely would not be here if it weren't for the incredible women that have paved the way for me to be here so also extremely grateful for those women," she added. "Thank you so, so much. And not to overuse the word, but I am incredibly grateful for this moment."
Zendaya is the fifth actress to receive the honor. Past recipients include Kristen Bell, Viola Davis, Claire Foy and Gal Gadot.
Before Zendaya accepted the honor, several women shared words of support for the SeeHer recipient, including Bell.
"I don't want to inspire the next generation, I want them to inspire me, and that's the way I think it should be," Bell shared. "These younger generations of actresses -- Zendaya being a shining star among them -- really are pushing the conversation of progress in a way that is new and wonderful, and I am excited and grateful to listen to them."
This year's Critics Choice Awards is hosted by Taye Diggs and follows an in-person/virtual hybrid format amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.