Rihanna thanked Mary J. Blige for paving the way for female artists as she presented her with the BET Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday.
The Work hitmaker gave a heartfelt speech as she took to the stage at the 2019 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, in which she hailed the New York native for her style and game-changing sound, and thanked her for paving the way for artists such as herself.
"Happy Mary. Sad Mary. Mad Mary. No more drama Mary. Dancing Mary. We're here for all of it," she told the audience. "Mary J. Blige: you have set the bar for relatable, timeless, classic music. You opened multiple doors for female artists in this industry. And on behalf of all the women (who) came after you – like myself – thank you for being you so we can feel comfortable being ourselves."
A leather-clad Rihanna also referenced the Be Happy songstress's history-making double Oscar nominations in 2018, for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song, for Dee Rees' movie Mudbound.
As she accepted the trophy the 48-year-old praised the Barbadian beauty, gushing: "I don't think you know how much I love and respect you. I'm a huge fan and you inspire me right back.
"People always ask, how do I sustain and stay relevant in this industry? It's because, although I am a leader, a queen, and a living legend. … I'm a servant as well and I'm here to serve," the Queen of Hip Hop/RnB continued. "Being a servant is not always glamorous or popular, but it's the job and the assignment that I was given.
"This journey has always been bigger than me and my mission is not only just to survive right now – it's to thrive and continue to make history while I do it."