Music

Here Is Karol G’s Full Woman of the Year Speech at 2024 Billboard Women in Music

Just after performing a fascinating salsa version of “Amargura,” Karol G took center stage at YouTube Theater on Wednesday (March 6) to accept her award for Woman of the Year at the 2024 Billboard Women in Music Awards.

Colombian actor and producer Sofía Vergara presented Karol — who made her acting debut alongside Vergara in Netflix’s Griselda earlier this year — with the special award.

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Here’s Karol’s full speech, with everything after the first paragraph translated from Spanish to English.

“First of all, it’s an amazing surprise that Sofía Vergara is giving me this award, I love it. Buenas noches a todos. I’m super honored to be here today. Oh my God, [this] might be the most significant and important recognition of all my career, this is super special. This is Woman of the Year but this is the first time ever a Latina is named the Woman of the Year. So, I have to give my speech in Spanish, of course.

“Well, this is Women in Music so I’m going to talk about us. I have to start first by telling you that for years and years I lived very disappointed with the fact of being a woman. I found myself on the road with so many rejections and so many lost opportunities. Because of that, I wondered why I was not born a man to exploit all this love, this desire and passion I felt for music. Where would all this desire I had to eat the world have gone if it was assumed that as a woman I could not achieve it? For a long time I believed that story. I believed that this was not for me. So many times I was told that I could not make it and I always think of the number of people who leave their dreams behind and leave their dreams aside for that reason, for the perception of others but not for the real dream they have and the desire they have inside. In the midst of my desire, in the midst of wanting to make music even if it was just for me, I decided that if my environment did not change, I was the one who had to change and I was the one who was going to do it. And that I wasn’t going to let being a woman be an obstacle or define my capabilities, but that it was going to be my strength, it was going to be my motive and my reason. And every time I was told no, I found the strength and the desire and everything I needed to say, yes I can. In my mind I changed the ‘a woman can’t do it’ to ‘look at this woman how she does it, look how a woman does it.’

“Three fundamental things happened in order for me to be here tonight. One, I stopped trying to be perfect for everyone. I accepted myself as a person, actually it was something that took me a long time, to accept myself as a woman, as a person, to stop hiding the things that for people were a defect and that probably now are all my qualities. Number two, I completely ignored and still completely ignore the comments of, ‘she owes it to this one,’ or ‘it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for this person’ or ‘because she recorded with this other one,’ or ‘she did it because she gave it to that one.’ The eagerness to find justifications for the achievements and successes of a woman, mmm no. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone when you know how much you have killed yourself to achieve everything you have achieved in life. And number three, I understood that it was not the respect of others that I had to earn but respect for myself. To work hard to the point where I could see myself and admire the person I had become. Studying, working, working on my voice, being clear about what I wanted to communicate. How I wanted to connect with people, improve my lyrics, spend many hours in the studio. To really prepare myself to be the best and when I would see myself, I would say, wow, she’s tough, how great, and that’s the respect you have to look for.

“I look back now, all the time it has taken me to be here, 16 years, and I feel very at peace with myself because I followed my heart, [you] follow your heart. I see the process, I wouldn’t take anything away. All the things, from the most beautiful to the most difficult, I am grateful today and they have made me the person I am. I don’t see pain, I see a lot of opportunities created, I see learning, I see goals achieved and a lot of hearts inspired. That is the coolest award I can receive, I love you. Really, thank you.

“Today, as I receive this award, I want to say [to myself] Karol G you’re incredible, congratulations. This is not only for me. I want to thank all the people, all the women who also work every day, who also open a path that we are not aware of, all those who have been working. To the women who work in my team, there are a lot of them. And to the women who are coming in the future, who are also working very hard already. I didn’t want to stand here and say all the things that I have done, I’m really just standing here to say that just like I did, all of you can do it too. And never, never give someone else the authority to decide on your own decisions, to say whether something you are doing is bad or good, has value or has no value. No one can put value on you as a person, not as a woman, not as a professional. It is you yourself who works for it, sweats for it, gets it and earns it. And, how chimba [great] that they gave me [the award] this year. Thank you, Billboard, I love you all.”

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