Angela Bassett's Speech On The Power Of Purpose At Black Girls Rock Is A Must-Watch

The actress received the Icon Award at the annual event honoring Black women and girls.

Angela Bassett is nothing short of an icon. And on Aug. 25, she was given the highest honor at the 2019 Black Girls Rock Awards, which aired on BET Sunday.

The ceremony, created by DJ Beverly Bond, is dedicated to the contributions and excellence of Black women and girls, a group that often goes overlooked and underpraised. Bassett is no exception to that (see: her 鈥淲hat鈥檚 Love Got to Do With It鈥 Oscar snub). But the actress received all the glory at the ceremony when actress and longtime friend Regina King, who received the Star Power Award, presented Bassett with the Icon Award.

Bassett accepted the award with an empowering message about how she found her purpose and remained steadfast in fulfilling it, even through adversity. She told the audience at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark that she knew from the time she was a teen that she wanted to be an actress. But even in the toughest times, she refused to take roles or do things that would compromise her integrity.

Actress Angela Bassett speaks onstage during Black Girls Rock at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
Actress Angela Bassett speaks onstage during Black Girls Rock at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
Aaron J. Thornton via Getty Images

鈥淢y purpose as a Black woman, as an actress, has always been to portray excellence on the screen, to be proud, unapologetic and without regret,鈥 the Golden Globe-winning actress said.

鈥淚t hasn鈥檛 always been easy, and there have been tough times, days when the phone didn鈥檛 ring, even after 鈥榃hat鈥檚 Love Got to Do With It.鈥 As well as moments of uncertainty and doubt,鈥 she said. 鈥淏ut what women like my mother, Betty Jane, and my Aunt Golden taught me was that there will be times when you seem to face insurmountable obstacles but that鈥檚 when you dig deep into your soul with confidence and fortitude.鈥

She received a rousing round of applause before continuing, reminding the crowd that 鈥渄espite life鈥檚 detours, you are destined for greatness.鈥

Bassett thanked her family for 鈥済iving me the opportunity and the space to be a Black girl who rocks.鈥 She also thanked Bond, BET and the Black women who came before her and inspired her, including Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz, Coretta Scott King and Tina Turner.

Then the Queen Mother of Wakanda really started preaching.

鈥淪o when you鈥檙e told you鈥檙e not good enough, you tell them, not only am I good enough, I鈥檓 more than good enough,鈥 she said. 鈥淲hen they say send her back home, you tell them I am home. I am the foundation of what you call home. When they tell you that you鈥檙e angry or nasty, you tell them that they鈥檙e mistaken. This is me. This is me being resolute and standing firmly in my truth. And when they say you鈥檙e not beautiful, you tell them that you are the descendant of royalty.鈥

She ended her speech evoking the words of her hero Sojourner Truth. Bassett reminded the audience about the power of uniting as women and speaking their truths.

鈥淲e have much work to do and, together, we are unstoppable,鈥 she said. 鈥淎lways remember that our voices, the very power that we hold individually, and all of us collectively, it does matter. Now is not the time to be silent. Find your purpose, pursue it relentlessly, passionately and loudly. Be persistent and win.鈥

Watch her full speech above.

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