Rihanna, Gladys Knight, and TV mogul Shonda Rhimes were celebrated at the 2016 Black Girls Rock! awards on Friday night (01Apr16).
The stars were among the honorees at the New Jersey event, which is held annually by Black Entertainment Television (BET) executives to promote positive images of black women.
Grey's Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda was presented with the Shot Caller Award for dominating Thursday night programming with her hit shows on ABC, while R&B icon Gladys, who performed a medley of her hits, was presented with the Living Legend Award.
"It is the best award, the greatest trophy that I've ever received," the veteran singer declared. "More than a Grammy. More than so many other awards that I've gotten that I appreciate."
The Walking Dead actress and playwright Danai Gurira was honored with the Star Power Award, while Amandla Stenberg was recognized with the Young, Gifted & Black prize, and Rihanna wrapped up the show with the final award of the night, reports The Associated Press.
"Thank you so much for celebrating us in a world that doesn't celebrate us enough," the Diamonds hitmaker exclaimed as she collected the Rock Star Award.
She then encouraged her fans to master the art of self-love and embrace themselves for who they are.
"The minute you learn to love yourself you will not want to be anybody else," explained the Bajan beauty, who is known for her raunchy outfits and her penchant for smoking marijuana. "Role model is not the title they like to give me... (but) I think I can inspire a lot of young women to be themselves and that is half the battle."
Rihanna also gave a shout out to her role models, her mom and grandmother, adding, "Hopefully one day I'll be raising my own little black girl who rocks."
The pre-taped prizegiving, which will air on BET network on Tuesday (05Apr16), also featured an unexpected appearance from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was invited to introduce Black Girls Rock! founder Beverly Bond to the stage.
"My life has been changed by strong black women leaders," she told the audience at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.
The Democratic frontrunner went on to call black women "change makers and pathmakers and ground shakers".
"There are still a lot of barriers holding back African-Americans and black women in particular, so a gathering like this filled with so many powerful, strong women is a rebuke to every single one of those barriers," Clinton said. "All of our kids, no matter what zip code they live in, deserve a good teacher and a good school, a safe community and clean water to drink."
The ceremony, hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross, also featured performances from R&B singers Monica, Brandy, Jazmine Sullivan, Corinne Bailey Rae, Marsha Ambrosius, and Andra Day.
Guests in the star-studded audience included Kelly Rowland, pregnant and engaged actress/singer Tatyana Ali, Debbie Allen, Cissy Houston, and Erykah Badu.