Tearful Jonathan Majors accepts Perseverance Award: 'I'm imperfect'

Just six months ago, Jonathan Majors was convicted of domestic assault and harassment, but that didn’t stop the Hollywood Unlocked from honoring him with the Perseverance Award at the annual Impact Awards on Friday night in Beverly Hills.

“I’m imperfect. I have shortcomings — I acknowledge them,” Majors said, fighting tears his during lengthy remarks after being presented with the award by self-help guru and inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant.

It was an emotional moment for the actor, who took the stage following a sizzle reel that captured some of the “Creed III” and “Lovecraft Country” star’s career highs and personal lows, but he was greeted with a standing ovation from the starry crowd, led by Hollywood Unlocked founder Jason Lee.

Majors continuously denied all allegations throughout his 19-day trial, but in April, he was sentenced to one year of domestic violence counseling. Per the ruling of a N.Y. judge, Majors must complete a 52-week, in-person program in Los Angeles, where he currently resides.

Onstage at the awards ceremony, Majors was tearful as he reflected on that experience.

“Perseverance means what?” he said. “Perseverance means persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay. And the God I serve has put me in a position where I’ve had to embody that word more than I wished or wanted.”

He continued, “We live in a world where men, Black men in particular, are propped up as either superheroes or supervillains. But I’ve come to realize, me, personally, I ain’t none of that. … I’m just that guy whose faith has been tested. It has been strengthened by this testimony.”

The actor’s legal troubles altered the trajectory of his fast-rising star. Majors was slated to star as Kang the Conqueror in the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following appearances in “Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania” and “Loki,” but he was dropped from all future MCU films on the day the verdict was announced.

Other movie roles disappeared too, including a buzzy movie where he’d portray Dennis Rodman. Majors had previously been dropped by his manager at Entertainment 360 and his publicity firm, the Lede Company, following his March 2023 arrest. (He remains repped by the talent agency WME.)

However, in the spirit of the “perseverance” that the Hollywood Unlocked award suggests, on Thursday, it was announced that Majors landed the lead role in Martin Villeneuve’s revenge thriller “Merciless,” his first new project since the conviction.

“There will be moments in your life where things get dark, and I mean really dark. … I’ve seen that darkness in myself,” he said. “I’ve sat in that pitch black and what I’ve learned is that when you catch a glimpse of light, you run as hard and as fast as you can towards it. And I will never take that light for granted again.”

From left, Karen Clark Sheard, Jonathan Majors and Iyanla Vanzant at the Hollywood Unlocked Impact Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Arnold Turner / Getty Images)
From left, Karen Clark Sheard, Jonathan Majors and Iyanla Vanzant at the Hollywood Unlocked Impact Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Arnold Turner / Getty Images)

Majors then thanked all of the people who’ve supported him during these trying times: from his family (particularly his mother, sisters, his young daughter and his girlfriend Meagan Good, who was visibly emotional sitting in the audience) to a group of Hollywood heavyweights.

“Light for me has come in a couple of ways: in the midnight texts from our brother Will Smith. Tyler Perry breathed life into me, just supporting and loving on people the way he does,” he said, going on to shout out David Oyelowo and his text message group of Black actors supporting one another, as well as filmmakers Deon and Roxane Taylor for giving him space in their production office.

His “Lovecraft Country” co-star Courtney B. Vance has been another strong support. So, too, was Whoopi Goldberg, who appears on Good’s show “Harlem,” and Majors said “breathed this light of wisdom and understanding and caring onto me and my queen. [Whoopi] allowed us to understand the support of community. … They are extraordinary people.”

Earlier in the evening, Majors and Good walked the red carpet hand-in-hand and he abstained from doing many interviews, opting to share this thoughts onstage instead. The awards ceremony was hardly Majors’ first Hollywood appearance post-controversy. In March, he attended the 7th Annual AAFCA Special Achievement Awards luncheon with Good, plus the couple walked the red carpet at the NAACP Image Awards.

Tiffany Haddish returned as host for the 4th annual Hollywood Unlocked Impact Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. Other honorees include Cardi B (the inspiration award), Jasmine Crockett (the social impact award), civil rights attorney Ben Crump (the community award), designer Christian Louboutin (the innovation award), Fat Joe (the culture award), and Da Brat and her wife Jesseca Harris-Dupart (the spirit award). Although there was no perseverance award recipient at the 2023 ceremony, celebrated actor and singer Jenifer Lewis was honored with the award in 2022.

Majors concluded his speech with a call to action, saying the last few years have reminded him just how much impact we all can have on others each and every day.

“Perseverance is more than just pushing through tough times,” he explained. “It’s about the people who inspire you, encourage you and support us. Those who ignite that flame, that light, that’s central within us that keep us going when we feel we can’t. I receive this award not just as an acknowledgement that I have persevered, but as a command to be there for others and to help them when and if their trials come.”

His final words, though, were for his daughter. “Your father loves you,” Majors said, choking back sobs as he exited the stage to another standing ovation from the crowd.

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