Lea Michele’s (Rachel) boyfriend, Cory Monteith (Finn), passed away suddenly of a drug overdose on July 13, and the Glee star made her first appearance at a public event almost a month later — at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards on August 11.
Lea won the award for Choice TV Actress: Comedy, and she quickly turned her acceptance speech into a chance to pay tribute to her late boyfriend. The speech is heartbreaking to watch. Lea at first appears smiling and happy, but as soon as she opens her mouth to speak, it is clear that the Glee star is fighting back tears.
“I just wanted to be here today to personally thank you and tell everyone out there how much your love and support has meant to me over these past few weeks. Thank you,” she said.
Lea is clearly emotional, and gets choked up a number of times throughout the speech, but she bravely presses on. “Not that I had any doubt before, but you guys are most certainly the greatest fans in the world and I wanted to dedicate this award to Cory. For all of you out there who loved and admired Cory as much as I did, I promise that with your love we’re going to get through this together."
At this point in the video, we were pretty much crying right alongside with her. But Lea continues, “He was very special to me and also to the world. We were very lucky to witness his incredible talent, his handsome smile, and his beautiful, beautiful heart. So whether you knew him personally or just as Finn Hudson, Cory reached out and he became a part of all of our hearts and that’s where he will stay forever. So thank you guys so much. Thank you.”
Many of Lea’s Glee family — writers, actors, and crew members — have spoken up to show their support of her brave speech. Here’s a look.