Lizzo said during her speech that she was initially hesitant to accept the award—which has previously gone to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Tyler Perry—because she didn't "need a trophy for championing people."
"I am here tonight, because to be an icon isn't about how long you have had your platform," Lizzo said. "Being an icon is what you do with that platform. Ever since the beginning of my career, I have used my platform to amplify marginalized voices, so tonight I am sharing this honor."
While accepting the People's Champion Award, she shared the moment with 17 activists who she invited on stage.
She was joined by Breonna Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, who has sought justice for her daughter's 2020 killing; Mari Copeny, known as "Little Miss Flint" for raising awareness toward the water crisis in Flint, Mich.; Shirley Raines, nationally recognized for providing unhoused people in Los Angeles' Skid Row with essential resources; and Maggie Mireles Thomas, sister to teacher Eva Mireles who was killed in the Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde, Texas this year.
Lizzo also brought up activists Yasmine Aker, Emiliana Guereca, Esther Young Lim, Felicia "Fe" Montes, Jayla Rose Sullivan, Kara Roselle Smith, Amelia Bonow, Odilia Romero, Rabbi Tarlan Rabizadeh, Sahar Pirzada, Chandi Moore, Crystal Echo Hawk and Reshma Saujani.
"Give them their flowers," Lizzo said. "Power will always be to the people."
Prior to the ceremony, the "Juice" singer was announced as the award's recipient in recognition of being a "role model and inspiration to fans worldwide."
"She leads with kindness, advocates for inclusivity, and champions increased diversity and equity in the industry and beyond," Cassandra Tryon said while announcing the honor. "Her commitment to breaking barriers and empowering others to use their own voices to create change makes her a true People's Champion."
The recognition caps off a stellar year for the "Juice" singer, as she's halfway to EGOT status—which consists of winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony—after Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls clinched the award for Outstanding Achievement in a Competition Program at the 2022 Emmys. In an emotional speech, the three-time Grammy winner reflected on what the prize meant for her and her team.
"I'm very emotional, and the trophy is nice but my emotion is for these people who are on the stage with me," she shared. "The stories that they shared, they're not that unique—they just don't get the platform."
Additionally, the win signified an important step toward a more inclusive representation she felt was lacking on television.
"When I was a little girl, all I wanted to see was me in the media," she said. "Someone fat like me, Black like me, beautiful like me. If I could go back and tell little Lizzo something, I would be like, 'You're going to see that person but bitch, it's going to have to be you.'"
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