Cher Slams Donald Trump, Honors Nancy Pelosi at VH1 Trailblazer Honors: "When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Just Like Her"

Nancy Pelosi - H 2019
(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Cher knows that she's often referred to as an "icon," but within seconds of taking the stage inside Wilshire's Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday night — to a rousing standing ovation — the 72-year-old superstar wanted to pass the title to someone else. 

"We hear the word 'icon' a lot, you know, describing people like me, and as far as I’m concerned, the one true icon in this room tonight is the woman we’re honoring," she said, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of four women feted during a seamless taping of VH1 Trailblazer Honors. "Since the days of our founding fathers, since they signed the Declaration of Independence, our country has been run almost exclusively by old white guys. Thankfully, because of Nancy and other strong women, this is changing. Nancy is a fighter who won’t back down. She muscled through the [Affordable Healthcare Act], and [she] isn’t afraid to go toe to toe with a bully and beat him at his own game."

Though Cher didn't name the bully she was referring to, the word alone struck a nerve with the largely female crowd and it led to applause. It quickly became clear that she meant President Donald Trump, someone she has spoken out against ever since he took office in the White House in 2016. "When I see Trump spew his hate and tell his gazillion lies, I get pissed off and I feel uneasy at the same time. I see Nancy come on TV and I think, 'OK, this is all good, Nancy is in the house,'" she added.

Also in the house at the Ebell were fellow honorees including groundbreaking filmmaker Ava DuVernay and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke. The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood was also on the honorees program but didn't make it for undisclosed reasons. Her honor was accepted by one of the stars of the book's Hulu adaptation, Samira Wiley. Mindy Kaling showed up to present DuVernay with her award after having starred in her Disney film A Wrinkle in Time, while actress and activist Alyssa Milano presented Burke with her prize. Other notable names in the building including performers Rita Ora and Elle King, Catt Sadler and "Everyday Trailblazers" Mayor Aja Brown, Peppermint and Alysa Liu. The event, which was a slick affair, was filmed to air on VH1 and Logo on March 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Back to Cher: To close out her time at the microphone, she praised Pelosi's leadership and her longstanding dedication to "the underdog, women and the LGBTQ community." She got tripped up over the letters LGBTQ, quickly catching herself and offering this quip: "I should be able to this so easily, right?" She continued: "She is the highest-ranking woman ever in American politics and because of her and other strong women like her, soon there will be a woman president. She gives me hope and courage and she is elegant and formidable and when I grow up I want to be just like her."

Pelosi does have a few years on her — the mother of five is 78 years old — and she also had a few words for Cher, as well. 

"Let us thank Cher for honoring us with her presence this evening," Pelosi said in accepting her trophy to a standing ovation. "I’m honored to receive this Trailblazer award from a trailblazer — the goddess of rock. Thank you for all that you do to make the world a better place."

Pelosi then took a few minutes to list off all the battles she's currently fighting on behalf of women, minorities and the LGBTQ community, things like health care options and the end to sexual harassment and assault. "Every person deserves to be free of abuse in the home and the workplace and every place," she said. "Understand this: the women of Congress have the ability and the strength and the experience and have had success in the national security of our country in a strong economy in our country. There is no issue that is not a women’s issue."

But despite the fact that Pelosi serves as House Speaker for the 116th Congress, which made history earlier this year with a record 127 women serving, she said they can't do it alone. "The outside mobilization is what makes good things happen. We need everyone to be trailblazers — together to advance a more equal, more inclusive, fair future for America's future and for all Americans. Thank you for being trailblazers and making a difference."

Don't fade to black just yet. Pelosi finished her speech with this mic drop moment: "I will display this Trailblazer honor in the Capitol of the United States of America."