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Gina Rodriguez Hosts 1st Young Women's Honors and Gives Powerful Empowerment Speech

Gina Rodriguez

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon

Saturday marked a girl powered night for Gina Rodriguez and the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

The Jane the Virgin star hosted and executive-produced Marie Claire‘s first annual Young Women’s Honors gala, which honored 10 “amazing female millennials doing amazing things” and who are “breaking down barriers and debunking stereotypes,” including Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.

“This has been a dream of mine since I was very young,” Rodriguez told the audience, which including celebs such as Katie Holmes. “I wanted to see images of myself on screen, I wanted to know I belonged, I wanted to know I was enough, I wanted to know I was strong. I wanted to know I was capable. I wanted to know I was possible. And every single woman in this room who came to be part of this project, that is helping me bring this project to a reality, is all that and more.”

Katie Holmes

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon

“Our honorees are everything I dreamt of having when I was a young girl,” she added. “Now we get to do that for the next generation. We get to do that ourselves, for any generation, at any point, anything is possible. Especially now during this time we’re living in…this room is so beautiful. This room is so hopeful, this room is so strong, and we are only strong together, so thank you.”

The Golden Globe-winning star attended the Young Women’s Honors Event with new boyfriend Joe LoCicero. The two sat at the same table as Biles.

In addition to the gymnast, other honorees included Fereshteh Forough, the founder of Code to Inspire, an initiative to empower women and girls in Afghanistan with technical literacy; Dr. Vanessa Kerry, founder of Seed Global Health, which sends health professionals overseas to train local health services; and Amanda Nguyen, who helped lawmakers create a bill protecting the rights of sexual assault survivors.

Other celebrity attendees of the Young Women’s Honors gala included Jenna Dewan TatumOrange Is the New Black stars Jackie Cruz and Laverne Cox and Victoria Justice and Reeve Carney. The two starred in FOX’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show revival last month.

Jenna Dewan-Tatum

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon

Jackie Cruz

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon

Laverne Cox

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon

Daya performed two songs, including “Sit Still, Look Pretty,” during which all of the honorees got up on stage, embraced each other, danced and sang along.

Also during the event, First Lady Michelle Obama talked to the honorees via video about her government initiative Let Girls Learn.

“Congratulations!” she said. “You are all extraordinary. You are brilliant, bold, you are transforming the world around you and in every day you remind us of the boundless promise that lies within every woman and girl on this planet.”

 The Young Women’s Honors, sponsored by Clinique and Moet & Chandon, will air on Dec. 19 on the CW network.

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