Selena Gomez brought the We Day Vancouver house down on Wednesday, with a truly remarkable speech that focused on self-love, social media bullying, forgiveness and not being “defined” by the negativity of others.
Her emotional yet controlled speech visibly moved many of the teens seen on MTV.ca’s live stream.
The 22-year-old actress-singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador spoke to an audience of 20,000 students from more than 1000 schools, all of whom earned their free ticket to the youth empowerment event by taking on one local and global action.
In addition to Gomez, other celebrities and names in attendance included Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kardinal Offishall, Yen, Mustafa the Poet, Orlando Bloom, Nick Jonas, Shawn Mendes, Spencer West, surprise guest Jennifer Lopez and more.
The annual We Day hits stadiums across 14 cities in the U.S. and Canada, “as part of the We Act program, which provides educational resources and campaigns to help young people turn the day’s inspiration into sustained action,” according to a press release.
Towards the end of the day-long event that included performances, speeches, interactive social media moments and videos showing the movement’s social action work around the world, Selena took to the stage to deliver her story.
The Latina wore a structured fuschia top and skirt, completing her look with fresh make-up and a youthful ponytail. She spoke just before the two co-founders of We Day and Free The Children, Craig and Marc Kielburger, and Lopez’s closer medley of stomping hits.
So, without further ado, Selena Gomez’s We Day Vancouver speech.
“We Day, I have had an absolute blast with you guys. But I wanna take a moment, just to share something with you guys,” the starlet began.
“I’ve been on TV since I was 9-years-old, so I didn’t have a typical childhood. When people look at me, they don’t see a 22-year-old figuring it out as she goes.”
“They see what they want to see, and that comes with a lot of expectations. I know what it’s like to be judged and to be put down. I know what it’s like to have people form opinions of you, without even knowing you, trying to dim your light,” Selena told the rapt crowd.
“I know what you guys go through, because I go through it every single day. But I don’t let it get it me,” she said.
“It’s entirely normal to get pulled off course, and just to get in my mind and let ‘that’ inside me, and distract from who I am. But, if I actually did that, it would drive me crazy,” Gomez added.
( Photo: The “Come & Get It” songstresses’ speech appeared to connect with the We Day audience.)
Continuing, Selena stressed, “I want to say; you are not defined by an Instagram photo, by a ‘Like,’ by a comment. That does not define you. At all.”
“I want you guys to know that the trick is, is to focus on the love. And what I want you guys to do with every rude comment you get, every person that tries to hurt you — personally or through the internet — I want you to forgive them.”
“Because they don’t even know, they have no idea,” she said, emphasizing the words with her hands.
Speaking as someone who knows of what she speaks, the Disney alum went on, “There is so much love in this world and this stadium.”
“Do not limit yourself because of what others expect. We all deserve more than we think.”
“And in the end, nobody remembers those… haters, the comments. Nobody remembers them, they’re just background noise.”
(Photo: Selena later tweeted about meeting a youngster at the event, writing, “The truth. My joy.”)
“When it’s over, nothing defines you but what you leave behind and what lives you touch on the way,” she said, in what may have been the most profound part of her speech.
Voice cracking but steady, Selena revealed, “It’s a lesson that I’m still trying to learn. But I’m so grateful for what I have, and I am ready for what comes next in my life.”
“And if you take just one thing from today, let it be this: I want you to believe in yourselves. Because I believe in you and you guys need to believe in each other.”
(Photo: The audience went wild for the pop princess when it was time to take a selfie.)
Facing the young audience, some of whom appeared to be crying at this point, the starlet concluded,
“Thank you so much. Like my friend Taylor [Swift] says, ‘The haters are gonna hate. Just shake it off,'” she added in a slight sing-song style that lightened the mood.
Driving We Day’s empowerment message home, the pop princess rallied at the end.
“So, just do you. Be true to yourself, love yourself.”
“Have confidence in yourself and everything will be fine. I am so excited for what’s gonna come next for you guys. Thank you so much.”
Selena Gomez’s authentic, moving speech probably touched and motivated thousands of kids at the event, some of whom may take that into their own lives.
On a personal level, Canada may also have been a life-changing trip, after a recent split from boyfriend Justin Bieber, and a meet with the Dalai Lama the day before her stunning turn as We Day Vancouver host.
(Photo: Selena met the Dalai Lama on rehearsal day/Last moments before showtime.)