January 9, 2014 03:24 AM EST
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jennifer Hudson held back tears when she accepted the favorite humanitarian award at the 2014 People's Choice Awards on Wednesday night.
Accompanied on stage by her sister Julia Hudson, the Oscar-winning actress became choked up as she said, "My mother always taught us without family you have nothing. Whether you know it or not, we all are family. What happens to the other happens to us. It's one thing to be a celebrity and have power, but it means nothing if we're not making a difference and helping someone else."
Hudson created the Chicago-based Julian D. King Gift Foundation with her sister, Julia Hudson, in honor of her nephew, Julian King, who was murdered in 2008 at the age of 7. The crime also took the lives of the Hudsons' mother and brother. The foundation aims to provide stability and positive experiences for children.
Hudson was presented the award by LL Cool J. "It feels good to see positivity acknowledged," she said. "Where we come from all you hear about is who shot who and who went to jail. There is more to life than the block you live on. We want to show them that I came from the same area and if I can do it, you can do it too. It does not stop there."
Hudson's tender moment was the only instance to strike a strong emotional chord during the show. Bestowing the humanitarian award remains a gripping current in the show primarily packed with light-hearted moments.
Sandra Bullock gained the show's first humanitarian award in 2013 for her efforts in storm-ravaged New Orleans. Bullock stayed modest in her speech, saying she didn't do much compared to the volunteers based in New Orleans. Bullock added that she was able to "write a check and be a really good cheerleader."
Last year marked the first year that the People's Choice Awards included more in their lineup than the fans favorite slices of entertainment. But the show had yet to see a moment quite as affecting as Hudson's.
The show - with nominees determined by national ratings averages, box-office grosses, music sales, social media activity and peopleschoice.com data - is a big popularity contest that's doesn't hold much weight in the industry. The winners are decided by the fans by online voting.
But the People's Choice Awards is always a truly star-studded evening, as the show is one of the first big televised ceremonies occurring at the top of awards season. The Golden Globes take place on Sunday, followed by the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Grammys and the Oscars.
Appearing at Wednesday night's fete were stars from television, music and film from Drew Barrymore to Heidi Klum, Ian Ziering, Jessica Alba, Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Anna Faris and Julianna Margulies.
Ellen DeGeneres was named favorite daytime TV host, making her the woman who has gained the most People's Choice Awards with a total of 14 trophies.
Bullock was named favorite movie, comedic and dramatic actress and shared the favorite movie duo award with "Gravity" co-star George Clooney.
"Iron Man 3" scored three awards including Robert Downey Jr.'s nod for favorite action movie star. Justin Timberlake also nabbed three prizes, Adam Sandler was deemed the favorite comedic movie actor, Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev, the stars of "The Vampire Diaries," earned the award for best on-screen chemistry, Stephen Colbert won the favorite late night talk show host award, Britney Spears picked up the favorite pop artist honor, and Kaley Cuoco received the favorite comedic TV actress prize as well as the favorite TV comedy award, along with the rest of the cast of "The Big Bang Theory."
After debuting her talk show "The Queen Latifah Show" in 2013, fans awarded Queen Latifah their favorite new talk show host.
"2 Broke Girls" stars Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs hosted the show at the Nokia Theatre, offering gut-busting wisecracks throughout the evening.
2014 marks the show's 40th anniversary. Over the years fans have awarded honors to celebrated entertainers like Barbra Streisand, Farrah Fawcett, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts and Eddie Murphy.