Actor Stephanie Hsu made a rousing call for forward progress and a collective ‘yes’ at the TIME100 Next Gala in New York City on Oct. 24. Here, her full remarks.

I want to just admit that it was a little difficult for me to come up with something to toast to tonight. The world feels like it is in absolute shambles, and the shambles feel like they are somehow made by our own human doing.

And when I look down between my thumb tips, everyone seems to just be screaming at each other, and everyone seems to know everything about how everyone else is doing it wrong. And then when I find myself in spaces where it feels like there’s actually time and space to have conversations about what’s happening in the world in a thoughtful way, no one seems to know how to talk about anything—which I totally understand and have such complete compassion for.

I too feel so confused, heartbroken, devastated. I feel rage. I feel deeply, deeply sad. I want to do everything to help, and I feel just as equally helpless. I remember early in the pandemic, this same feeling of panic and overwhelm started to bubble up, and I began to spiral—because I’m a spiraler—and I was thinking about all the millions of other things I should be doing in my life to be a little bit more helpful. Like, OK, is it too late to become a nurse or, um, a biochemist? Yes. Brilliant. Maybe now, me, actor, Academy award nominee, should be a biochemist—that feels right. I found myself in front of my bookshelf looking for clues and comfort. And as I was scanning the spines, these books, desperately searching for answers inside somebody else’s words, out of nowhere, I all of a sudden just started weeping. Out of nowhere I just started sobbing because in that very moment, I had this profound realization that all of these authors, all of these people, these human beings over the course of so many tragedies, have taken the time to do the work, to turn their ideas, their feelings, their heartbreak into an offering, a book, to protect us at a time of devastation they didn’t even know would come.

In her book No Is Not Enough, Naomi Klein says that it is not enough to merely resist, to say no. Our historical moment demands more, a credible and inspiring yes, one that sets a bold course for winning the fair and caring world we want and need. Writers are yes makers, artists, yes makers, educators, doctors, parents, children, biochemists, astronauts, physicians—we are in a room full of yes makers. And I too have to remember that I am one in a world of many, many more.

I love this, that collectively imagining a yes we can build towards is not only our responsibility, but necessary for our surviving. So in the spirit of this, I’d like to share with you all one of my favorite yeses. I think about it in moments like this. A moment like we’re in now, when the overwhelm can tip into helplessness or paralysis.

It’s something one of my favorite authors and activists Adrienne Maree Brown once said at a talk back, when I asked her through tears—I’m always crying because I’m an actor—I asked her, What do you do when you feel like the change you want to make won’t happen fast enough? Or that you can’t keep up with the speed in which destruction and tragedy is happening?

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And she said, because she’s brilliant, she said: I have exactly the perfect antidote for you. She said: I think of Harriet Tubman. I think of this woman who brought enslaved people to freedom from the South to the North, over and over, simply just by walking. Harriet, who simply walked. One woman who in the dark of the woods had nothing, only the light of the stars to guide her, walked simply because she knew her people had to be free.

So tonight, I would like to raise a toast to walking or moving forward, however you are able, into and through uncertainty. I’d like to raise a toast to TIME and to the time it takes to have the deep courage to imagine and believe there must be another way. And then to move towards it, whether it to be the moon or to writing the first or last page of a book, or to the other side of freedom, to do something towards collective justice and joy, even if we are completely in the dark of what the outcome may be.

We are in a room full of beautiful, beautiful people with the imagination of a million yeses, or definitely at least 100. And I cheers to that, to you all, to what’s next. And when in doubt, I hope we can look to each other, look to the sky. Thank you so deeply for doing what you’re doing. I feel honored to be moving towards yes, alongside of you all.

Hsu is an Academy Award-nominated actor and a member of the 2023 TIME100 Next list.

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