Teen Choice Awards 2016 Spotlights Election, Gun Violence

On the heels of the Republican and Democratic national conventions, Sunday’s Teen Choice Awards encouraged young voters to cast their ballots — not just for the usual categories like Choice Instagrammer and Choice Movie Breakout — but also for the next president of the United States. In partnership with Rock the Vote, the ceremony held its first-ever vote for the upcoming election and announced the result at the end of the show.

“The awards show that is all about you: your voice, your vote, your choice,” John Cena said during the opening with his co-host Victoria Justice. The ceremony was laced with political subtext, encouraging and inspiring audience members to weigh in on the country’s future with help from some of their favorite young stars.

Upon accepting her award for Choice Movie Actress: Comedy, Chloe Grace Moretz ended her speech stating, “Go out there to vote, this election means a lot.”

While presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have both received numerous celebrity endorsements, the wide majority of them have come from stars over 30 years old. Regardless, 25-year-old “Modern Family” star Sarah Hyland says that many of her friends have been very outspoken about the forthcoming election.

“I’m with her. I’m a Hillary supporter, I think she is the best option for our country. I’m not going to trash talk anybody, but I think it is very important —  whether you agree with me or not — to vote and to make yourself heard,” she said passionately on the red carpet.

“I think the best example that we had of not speaking up for yourself and your country is the EU referendum. A lot of millennials did not vote because they didn’t think that it would ever happen and now they’re in regret,” Highland continued. “I’m friends with a lot of people from England and it is a very important thing to stand on your soap box and vote to make yourself known because if you don’t, you have no room to complain about what happens with our future.”

Laura Marano, star of Disney Channel’s “Austin & Ally,” echoed Hyland’s sentiments when it comes to exercising her rights. The 20-year-old will be voting in her first election this fall.

Marano agrees that both Trump and Clinton have increased their ability to reach the younger generation by being been highly active on Twitter. “This is the first [election] where social media had been so enthralled and it’s such a vital part of our society,” Marano explained. “I think it’s been an interesting way to connect millennials and younger generations with politics.”

The awards ceremony ended with Clinton besting Trump for the Teen Choice vote after viewers made their submissions using hashtag #ChoicePresident. “Key & Peele” alum Keegan-Michael Key announced the winner while wearing a shirt that read President Obama’s quote from last week’s Democratic National Convention: “Don’t Boo, Vote!”

This year’s Teen Choice Awards also addressed gun violence. Jessica Alba got emotional while introducing teen family members of victims from the Orlando, Newtown and San Bernardino shootings, as well as Alton Sterling’s son, Cameron. She and Ne-Yo asked the audience to post the hashtag #StopTheViolence. Ne-Yo followed the emotional segment with a moving rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”

Other big moments from the awards show included Kobe Bryant presenting Justin Timberlake with the Decade Award. The singer spoke at length about social equality and how the late Muhammad Ali influenced his life. There were also solo musical performances from Flo Rida, Jason Derulo, Charlie Puth and Serayah.

Click here to see all the winners from the 2016 Teen Choice Awards.

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