You don’t need to be a teenager to appreciate Justin Timberlake’s speech at Sunday’s Teen Choice Awards.
The 35-year-old actor and singer accepted the first-ever Decade Award to mark the tenth anniversary of his album, FutureSex/LoveSounds. He used the platform to make a plea to the next generation of activists and to seemingly address some of the fallout from his response to Jesse Williams’ powerful BET Awards speech.
“My parents did their best to fill my young mind not with prejudice or hate but with compassion and love,” Timberlake told the audience, later adding, “The truth is we are all different, but that does not mean we all don’t want the same thing.”
In June, Timberlake apologized to Twitter users who were upset when the singer said “we are the same” when he expressed admiration for Williams’s speech. In his speech at the TCA, Timberlake admitted that he had made some stumbles in his life, but used Muhammad Ali as an example of how to recover from mistakes gracefully: “I’m here to say you will make mistakes along the way. You will fall down. I have many times. Even Ali did. But what we do after that fall is how we make history because impossible is nothing.”
At the TCA, Timberlake told the audience: “Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.” He also invoked Ali’s wisdom to urge the audience to become involved in their homes and communities: “Number one: Don’t count the days, make the days count.”
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth, so be generous, be kind, be fair,” Timberlake continued. “I think we all can agree that, with all the tension in the world today that can divide us, we should be a part of the solution and not part of the problem. And you don’t have to make a difference on a global stage. You can volunteer in your neighborhood or in another neighborhood nearby where people might look a little different from you and they might teach you a thing or two.”