Jonathan Majors Gets Perseverance Award, Thanks Stars for Support

Jonathan Majors Gets Perseverance Award, Thanks Stars for Support

“I reckon folks want to know about the last year,” Jonathan Majors began at the Hollywood Unlocked Impact Awards on Friday, where he was honored with the Perseverance Award, before beginning a tear-filled, 17-minute long speech about his much-publicized trial and misdemeanor conviction for domestic assault in April.

“As a Black man in the criminal justice system, I felt anger, I felt sadness, hurt, surprise. When they snatched me up out of my apartment in handcuffs, I didn’t feel like all that,” the actor said, gesturing to the screen that had just played a highlight reel of his onscreen performances. “I didn’t feel like Jonathan Majors, Mr. Creed, Mr. Kang; I felt like a little scared, weak boy, despite the support and evidence that was in my favor, I knew shit was bad. And it was bad because of who I was and what I am. This is what happens to Black people all too often.”

The actor made the comments while being honored at the fourth annual Hollywood Unlocked Impact Awards, hosted by Tiffany Haddish and held in the Beverly Hilton’s ballroom. The brainchild of media personality and Hollywood Unlocked founder Jason Lee, the Impact Awards “were created to honor influencers, celebrities and icons who have made a lasting impact on the culture.”

Specifically, Majors was singled out for his trophy as “an individual who has shown that no matter what adversity they face, they will continue to aspire to inspire.” Majors was convicted of reckless assault in the third degree and harassment — a misdemeanor and a violation — in December after an altercation with ex-girlfriend Grace Jabbari. Following the highly-publicized case, he was sentenced to a 52-week, in-person domestic violence intervention program in April.

Of “perseverance,” Majors said that “the God I serve has put me in a position where I’ve had to embody that word more than I wished or wanted to. We live in a world where men, Black men in particular, are propped up as either superheroes or super villains,” but noting he’s realized that he’s neither of those.

He also spoke for the first time about the A-listers who have supported him in private, revealing, “the midnight text from my brother Will Smith, letting the homie know, ‘Hey I’m thinking about you man.’ Tyler Perry breathed life into me, just supporting and loving on people the way he does. David Oyelowo and his whole group of threads — I think maybe some of y’all are on that thread, I don’t participate because it’s crazy but I feel the love. Deon and Rebecca Taylor, who gave me a production office when I was walking through the desert feeling lost and crazy, put a battery in my back, as he says. Courtney B. Vance has been with me from Lovecraft Country, my Uncle George forever. Whoopi Goldberg fed me and [girlfriend] Meagan [Good] one day, we weren’t hungry but was over there hanging out and she breathed this light of wisdom and understanding and caring onto me and my queen. It was Whoopi who allowed us to understand the support of community.”

Majors took particular time to shout out the women in his life, including his mother — “My mama brought me into this world on September 7, 1989, in Lompoc, California, on a military base and stood behind her 34-year-old son as she heard him say, ‘Guilty.’ And when I turned back to her, she smiled at me and said, ‘It’s OK, son’” — and Good, who wiped away tears as the actor told her, “I love you, I love you beyond all limit, with all my strength, with all my heart I love you.”

He closed by saying, “I receive this award not just as an acknowledgment that I have persevered, but as a command to be there for others and help them when and if their trials come. Perseverance rests on the shoulders of many; I command myself to be shoulders to our community, to my queen, to our industry, to our culture. And just to Ella, my baby girl, we’re gonna be alright, your father loves you. I love y’all, I thank you for this. To be in this room with these great entertainers, these great Black artists, woo. Ain’t no place like home.”

Karen Clark Sheard, Jonathan Majors and Iyanla Vanzant.

Arnold Turner/Getty Images for Jason Lee/Hollywood Unlocked Impact Awards

Iyanla Vanzant presented Majors with his award at the event, saying, “As a woman who spent nine years in an abusive marriage, I am both humbled and honored to present this award, the Perseverance Award, to my brother Jonathan Majors.”

She continued by saying that God knows Majors’ heart and that “he will continue to show you mercy for the excellence that you bring to the mastery of your craft, despite the opinion of human beings. Persevere, my brother, because my friends’ mercy and grace are willing and strong enough to get you to the other side of any cancelation. Because God is forgiving,” Vanzant finished, as the crowd cheered. Majors cried into Vanzant’s arms as he took the stage, and she stepped in to offer him a handkerchief several times throughout the speech.

After Vanzant delivered the tribute, she exited the stage. It appeared as though Majors would then go up to accept his trophy — he readied himself by standing up from his chair and taking a few steps toward the stage — but gospel singer Karen Clark Sheard then appeared and performed a rendition of the gospel track “Secret Place” while being backed up by nine singers.

Tiffany Haddish, Sharon Stone, Jonathan Majors and Meagan Good attend the 4th annual Hollywood Unlocked Impact Awards at the Beverly Hilton on June 21, 2024.

Arnold Turner/Getty Images for Jason Lee/Hollywood Unlocked Impact Awards

Though the 34-year-old has made a handful of public outings in recent months — often turning up to events with Good on his arm — Friday’s awards show marked his first speech. The appearance came on the heels of news that Majors had been cast in his first post-conviction film role as he attempts to regain a foothold in the industry. Amid the allegations and resulting trial, Majors was replaced as Kang the Conquerer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after appearing in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Loki.

The new project, Merciless, comes from director Martin Villeneuve and producers Christopher Tuffin, Kevin Townsend and Kevin DeWalt. The story, penned by Frank Hannah, follows a CIA interrogator who is forced to defeat a malevolent force that has overtaken the woman he loves.

The project was first revealed by Deadline, which quoted Tuffin as saying, “In graduate school, I had the good fortune to study screenwriting under Blacklist scribe Millard Lampell and learned from him the dangers of letting politics undermine due process and deprive artists of their careers. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be working with Jonathan who is such a great talent now that this matter has been adjudicated.”

The Hollywood Unlocked Impact Awards program also honored Christian Louboutin, Cardi B, Fat Joe, U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett, civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump, and Da Brat with wife Jesseca Harris-Dupart. Sharon Stone, who presented to longtime friend Louboutin, helped close the show when she was presented with a surprise (and unannounced) icon award. Other guests included Floyd Mayweather, Babyface, Cam Newton, Evan Ross, Omarion, Marlo Hampton, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jill Marie Jones, Brandon T. Jackson, YK Osiris, Romeo Miller, Raven-Symoné and more. Previous Impact Award honorees include Chlöe Bailey, Law Roach, Whoopi Goldberg, Tupac, Catherine Brewton, Kelis, Karen Bass and Lizzo. The show was recorded and will air exclusively on The Zeus Network.

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