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Missy Elliott hit the stage at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards on Monday night to perform a medley of her biggest hits, and, most notably, receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. But the rapper took everyone by surprise when mid-performance she brought out Alyson Stoner, the child dancer made famous in Elliott’s 2002 music video for “Work It.”
Now 26 years old, Stoner received a special spotlight during Elliott’s medley, dancing in an all-yellow jumpsuit.
— Video Music Awards (@vmas) August 27, 2019
In addition to “Work It,” Elliott performed songs like “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” “Get Ur Freak On,” and “Lose Control.”
The multihyphenate star is the first female rapper to receive the Video Vanguard Award, which Cardi B presented. She praised Elliott’s decades-spanning career as a singer, songwriter and producer, noting “classic” lyrics such as “Holla, ain’t no stoppin’ me/ Copywritten, so don’t copy me.”
“I promised I wouldn’t cry because I cry at every awards [show], but this Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award means so much to me,” Elliott said when accepting the honor. “I have worked diligently for over two decades. And I never thought that I would be standing up here receiving this award, so it means so much to me. I promise it don’t go unnoticed, the support and love that you have all shown me over the years.”
The rapper went on to thank a number of people, along with Atlantic Records and her home state of Virginia.
“Lastly, I want to dedicate this award to the dance community all around the world,” Elliott added. “Because when y’all get on the stage with these artists, y’all are not just props. Y’all are the icing on the cake; y’all are the beat to the heart.”
According to MTV, the award is the VMAs’ “highest honor.” Previous recipients include Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Guns N’ Roses, Britney Spears, Kanye West, Rihanna and Pink.
“Missy’s impact on the music landscape is indelible,” said Bruce Gillmer, head of music and music talent, Viacom, and co-brand head, MTV International, in a statement. “Her creative vision across production, performance and songwriting is unmatched.”
Leading up to the awards show, MTV and Pepsi hosted a pop-up museum event in New York City that immersed fans in Elliott’s music videos and costumes.
The 2019 VMAs were hosted by comedian Sebastian Maniscalco from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The ceremony aired on MTV.
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