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Stars may have been ready to celebrate the best in television and film when they hit the red carpet of this year’s MTV Movie & TV Awards on Saturday, but it was Dwayne Johnson and Jada Pinkett Smith who were truly in the spotlight.
Hosted by Shazam! star Zachary Levi, this year’s ceremony selected the actor and actress to receive the night’s top honors, with Johnson to be presented with the Generation Award and Smith being honored with the Trailblazer Award. Though the pair tout résumés featuring successful films, instead, stars focused the discussion on Johnson and Smith’s philanthropic efforts.
“I feel like both of those amazing humans have done so much work, not only in the entertainment industry but with the philanthropy part of the world and trying to make sure this world is equal and just,” Euphoria star Storm Reid told The Hollywood Reporter while on the carpet outside the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. “Whatever they believe in, they fight for that. I’m glad to be witnessing that tonight.”
Meanwhile, The Haunting of Hill House star Kate Siegel couldn’t help but celebrate Pinkett Smith for sparking dialogue with her hit show Red Table Talk on Facebook Watch.
“I love Jada Pinkett Smith with her open communication with children about issues these days with her new show. I think that’s so important to remove the kind of pedestal nature from celebrities so that we can all talk about the same issues that are affecting all of us,” said Siegel.
“I think Jada is just an incredible woman and role model and mother, and just I’ve always looked up to her as an amazing icon in this industry. I think she deserves all the praise that she could get,” said Sydney Sweeney, who, like her co-star Reid, was also on hand to celebrate the upcoming premiere of her HBO series Euphoria.
As for Johnson, stars were quick to express how much they aspired to be like him, with even director Mike Flanagan emphasizing that “everybody wants to be The Rock.”
“I’ve been a big fan of The Rock my whole entire life. You see what he’s gone through and the adversity that he’s faced, and how he’s come out of it and how he’s dealt with it is so inspiring and something our generation and generations to come should take notes and learn about,” former Bachelor Colton Underwood told THR. “He’s a class act, and he’s really the definition of ‘hard work pays off.'”
In addition to its recognition of Johnson and Pinkett Smith, the awards ceremony was also celebrated for its dedication to inclusivity and honoring the voices of the generation.
“This award show is so fun and so inclusive and diverse. I feel like the awards they give out are very strategic and I feel like they want to make sure that everybody gets an award and is represented,” said Reid.
In recent years, television series have been recognized alongside films during MTV’s annual show, while categories have been altered to become gender-neutral. Stars like actress Laura Marano emphasized that the show’s changes mark a first step toward ensuring award ceremonies shed light on important issues.
“I think more than ever we’re showing that we want to talk about issues and we want more serious things. These award shows are starting to embrace the topics we want to talk about and the topics that should be talked about,” Marano, who walked the carpet with sister and fellow actress Laura Marano to discuss their upcoming film Saving Zoe.
Schitt’s Creek star Daniel Levy emphasized that the MTV Awards is a “special” event that helps in projecting “positivity.”
“Putting something positive out into the world right now, in particular, is a very special thing, and I think people need it and I think people want positive energy. I think people feel safe around things that are positive and joyful,” said the actor of what sets the MTV kudocast apart from the rest. “I’ve been responding to shows that are more intent and send light out into the world.”
Siegel added that the network’s younger demographic also plays a role in making the show have such longevity and purpose each year: “I think it’s the audience of this show. They are young and passionate people with an eye on entertainment with different genres. They know what they like. They know what they don’t like. They are the voice of a generation, and that’s always an exciting and important point of view to pay attention to.”
This year, Avengers: Endgame, Game of Thrones and RBG lead with four nominations going into the fan-voted awards show. Presenters set to hit the stage include Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Gavin Leatherwood, Noah Schnapp, Dave Bautista, Aubrey Plaza and Kumail Nanjiani, among others, while Elisabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish are slated to introduce performer Lizzo.
The MTV Movie & TV Awards are set to air Monday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
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