Though the Teen Choice Awards were punctuated by jokes about Pokémon and the presidential campaign, Jessica Alba took the awards show in a poignant direction when she introduced a group of teenagers who had been affected by gun violence.
“[They] share an unlikely bond that is hard to comprehend,” she told the crowd. “They’re the brothers, sisters, daughters, and family members of recent victims of gun violence. I’m talking about Aurora, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Minneapolis, Orlando, San Bernardino, Newtown. It keeps happening and it has to stop. Many of those impacted by these acts of violence are teens.”
The group on stage then introduced themselves to the crowd. Among them were J.T. Lewis, whose brother was killed in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, two of San Bernardino victim Bennetta Betbadal’s children, the siblings of Jason Josephat, who died during the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, and Alton Sterling’s son, Cameron.
“Tonight we stand together with these teens,” Alba said after they introduced themselves. “United in a call for peace and an end to this violence. Now more than ever we need to stop, feel, and ask, ‘What’s going on?'”
They were met with a standing ovation, and a performance from Ne-Yo, who sang Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”
Alba then continued through her tears: “These teens had the courage to come here with their grief and take a stand. Tonight Ne-Yo and I and all of us here and all of you watching need to do the same.”
Ne-Yo said, “If you feel that we have to do better, I need you to stand up right now and take out your phones.”
Alba then asked fans in the crowd to take a photo of the teens on stage and post with the hashtag, #StopTheViolence.
Alba wasn’t the only one moved to tears — cameras also showed Jane the Virgin‘s Gina Rodriguez looking deeply moved.