Beyoncé Honors Director Melina Matsoukas in a Moving Speech at the AFI Gala: "She Is Fearless"

Beyoncé made a surprise appearance at the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award tribute gala on Thursday. The 37-year-old singer attended the Los Angeles event to present AFI’s Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal to Melina Matsoukas (the director of Bey’s “Formation” music video); the award is given every year to an alumnus of the AFI Conservatory or the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop For Women. Clad in a stunning cream-colored gown, Beyoncé paid tribute to Melina’s amazing work with a touching speech about her impact.

“After over a decade of collaborating with Melina, we’ve become family,” Beyoncé said. “In 2005, she managed to shoot five videos with me in three days, creating beautiful imagery with little to no budget. We’ve come a long ways since those days.” Bey — who worked with the honoree on videos such as “Diva,” “Upgrade U,” and “Sweet Dreams” — went on to praise Melina for also directing notable shows and films, including Insecure and the upcoming Queen & Slim, calling them “stories that are thought-provoking, dramatic, funny, and real.”

When Melina joined Bey in front of the crowd to accept the award, she couldn’t help but gush about the singer. “My first real foray into directing was 10 years ago with my sister, Beyoncé,” she said. “She truly inspires me. She taught me how to work, how to dream, how to achieve. And most importantly as an artist, how to take control of your own narrative. Without her, I’m not the same voice and I’m not the same creator.”

After the event — which also paid tribute to Denzel Washington — Beyoncé took to Instagram to share a few snapshots of her and Melina embracing each other. “Melina, I’m so proud of you my sister. Love you deep,” she wrote in a rare caption.

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