“Don’t let the myths make you believe that women don’t support other women,” said Apple’s Bozoma Saint John while accepting her Executive of the Year honor at Billboard’s Women In Music awards, kicking off the event with a girl-power-driven bang. “People might tell you that you have to wait your turn, but I’m here to tell you to say no. We’re knocking these dudes out of the way to make room for you.”
Saint John, the head of global consumer marketing for iTunes and Apple Music (yes, she’s responsible for those Drake and Taylor Swift-starring spots), accepted the award Friday (Dec. 9) at New York’s Pier 36, where the star-studded awards ceremony took place.
The 39-year-old, who took the position at Apple after spending years as the head of music and entertainment marketing for Pepsi, accepted the award after being introduced by both Beats 1 DJ Julie Adenuga and close friend Lady Gaga, who appeared in a video message to support Saint John. “I’m very rarely overtaken the way I was when I met her,” said Gaga, sporting the same pink hat she wears on the cover of her latest album Joanne. “Watching a woman like her blossom in this industry really gives me hope.” Then, Gaga belted her newest single “Million Reasons” a cappella, after sharing the story of when she played it for Saint John for the first time.
“It makes me feel that much more powerful to know we’re all in this together,” said Saint John of her 99 fellow honorees after thanking Gaga, Adenuga, the Billboard staff, and (last but not least) Jesus. “I’d really like to accept this award for the sistahs,” she added, before elaborating on some of the women in her life, from her mom and her sisters, to the women who helped her get through her husband’s death in 2013, to “the sistahs at Apple who boldly defy the Silicon Valley stereotype every day to be heard.”
Saint John concluded her rousing speech on a political note: “Regardless of the political climate, we’re not waiting ’til next time,” she said. “This is our time — I ain’t sorry.”
Billboard’s Women In Music airs Dec. 12 on Lifetime at 9PM ET.