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America Ferrera Delivers a Powerful Intersectional Speech at HRC Gala

America Ferrera

The actress and activist brought the crowd to its feet in an a speech that calls for unity. 

She may have risen to fame in the comedy Ugly Betty, but America Ferrera has fast become an activist for our time. An ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton during the election, Ferrera took to the road to stump for her several times. Now that Donald Trump sits in the White House, the Superstore star continues to be a voice for the marginalized, speaking out against injustice in a truly modern, intersectional fashion. And her commitment to resistance was on full display at HRC's gala dinner in Los Angeles on Saturday, where she was honored with the Ally for Equality Award.

Ferrera, who delivered a fiery takedown of Donald Trump's xenophobic policies at the Women's March in January, brought the crowd to its feet at The Marriott in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday.

Girls star Lena Dunham introduced her friend Ferrera, 32, who spoke of the need for representation for part of her 12-minute speech, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"We know that representation matters. We know this. Not just in the media but in schools, hospitals, board rooms, halls of power. We know that it makes all the difference to see ourselves reflected by culture with dignity, with humor, with compassion," she said. "It is how most of us learn what is possible for us, what our place in the world is. Too often we have to spend so many years unlearning what culture has taught us about who we are or ought to be, but it doesn't have to be that way. We can change that. Every single one of us we can leave the next generation with a better reflection of their innate worth and their inherent power simply by claiming and living in our own power."

Ferrera said it's not always easy to resist, admitting, "Some days I feel tired and inadequate, incapable of making a dent," she said. "There are days I would rather crawl under my bed with a box of Captain Crunch and all six seasons of Dawson's Creek." But then she delivered the inspirational moment that fired up the crowd.

"Anything I've ever done on behalf of the LGBTQ community, I did in service to myself," Ferrera proclaimed. "Anything I ever did for the rights of this community I did because I believe -- with every fiber of my being -- that my liberation is bound up in the liberation of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and in the liberation of my black brothers and sisters, and in the liberation of immigrants, and refugees, and Muslims, and sikhs, and women all over the world, and the incarcerated, and the criminalized, and the uneducated, and the poor, and the hungry, and, and, and, and, and."

Outspoken singer and activist Katy Perry picked up the National Equality Award from HRC at the event. In her speech, she spoke of the work ahead and encouraged people to trust their instincts and to speak up and out.

"We have to create a safe space for us to ask questions of ourselves and others and to keep the conversation going," said Perry in her acceptance speech. "Because the loudest voice in the room or on your TV set isn't always right. But that little voice inside of you, pushing you to discover who you are, is a trusted friend."

Watch a clip of Ferrera's speech below.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist