SZA took the stage at YouTube Theater on Wednesday (March 1), where she was being honored as the Woman of the Year at the 2023 Billboard Women in Music Awards.
After an in-person introduction from Coi Leray and a partially sung message from Lizzo via video, the SOS auteur – who has topped the Billboard 200 for 10 weeks and counting – took the stage.
Here’s her full speech.
“I’m taped in here for high hell, y’all,” she said of her outfit. “I just want to thank God and my parents are here, my mom and my dad and right here, and my whole team [at TDE], Punch [Terrence Henderson] and MeLisa [Heath] and Top [Anthony Tiffith] and Amber, who is my best friend, we were roommates in college, and now she just makes sure I don’t fall apart every single day. To RCA, just everybody.
“I don’t know. A couple days ago MeLisa was like – I was about to go on stage, I’m on tour right now, today is my day off – she was like, ‘You should take time to write your speech.’ And then it’s like, ’10 seconds to stage’ and it’s like, ‘OK.’
“I didn’t write anything but that’s also who I am. I’m a very off the dome person. What I wanted to say is that there’s so many women in this room right now that I respect so deeply. This could have been any of us in this room.
“Whether it’s Lana Del Rey or Olivia Rodrigo or Chloe or Doechii who is a f–king star or Latto, or even Coi, my very own Jersey baby. I think sometimes there’s a misconception where everybody always feels like that girl, like, oh, I know I’m that b—-h and I have a lot of confidence. It’s OK to not be that person all the time. I used to feel like I didn’t belong because I don’t always feel like that. But I realized that the key is to stay open and available for whatever the universe or God wants to do with your life. Even when you don’t know who you are or you may not see, I don’t know why telling these on Billboard, I’m grateful — I love you too [aside to an audience member].
“But I really just want my life to be more than music, to be more than just an artist. I want to serve others, I want to serve people I want to be open and available to whatever God wants from me and saying yes to everything that’s scary to everything that feels like it’s not for you or where you don’t belong. It’s really the only way we walk through those doors. I encourage everybody to continue to be inspired and just stay available. You don’t have to be confident or even know that you are the one, or anything like that, you just have to say yes to the possibility. I’m grateful and thank you all for saying yes to me and I hope everybody has a blessed night. Thank you very much.”