March 28, 2022 4:04 PM EDT

The queen of Bollywood Deepika Padukone took the stage at the Museum of the Future in Dubai on Monday night to accept one of the first-ever TIME100 Impact Awards—and shared a powerful message about following one’s heart.

Presented with the award by fellow actor and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador Kat Graham, Padukone graciously shared her own experiences as one of India’s most successful—and most scrutinized—stars. She said that while it was difficult to tell her parents that she was giving up a career as a badminton player at age 16, she more vividly remembers promising them that she’d make them proud.

“Little did I imagine that 20 years hence, I’d be standing here this evening at the TIME100 Impact Awards,” Padukone said. Such events, she added, have convinced her that she made the right choice. “For all the times I’ve felt lost, confused, or disappointed, it is recognitions such as these that remind me that I am indeed on the right path, at least for the most part, and validate my whole belief of living a life that is driven by purpose, authenticity, and mindfulness.”

Padukone said that she’s learned the importance of “follow[ing] your bliss.” Paraphrasing a quote by the actor Sacha Baron Cohen, she noted that actors’ lives can be “deeply unstable,” and that “you need luck, you need talent, and you need to work your butt off.”

Padukone is not just a critically-acclaimed actor; she is also behind the LiveLoveLaugh Foundation, which she started in 2015 to provide a new avenue for mental health resources and to fund further mental health research, after experiencing her own struggle with mental health. LiveLoveLaugh offers benefits such as free counseling and psychiatric support, plus a training program that helps primary care doctors better identify and treat mental health conditions.

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Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com.

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