The Miley Cyrus 2014 VMA shocker? An act of charity. (+video)

Miley Cyrus turned the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards spotlight on the homeless youth of America. Twerking is so last year.

By , Staff writer

What a difference a year makes.

At the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus emerged as the Queen of Twerk with her calculated and shockingly crude performance with Robin Thicke.

At Sunday night's 2014 VMA event, when it was announced that Cyrus had won “Video of the Year" for “Wrecking Ball,” she didn't even take the stage.

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Instead, she gave the spotlight to a cause. She stood and hugged "Jesse," and sent the blond, self-described homeless man in her place. 

He awkwardly took the microphone from host Jimmy Fallon and read from notes:

"Thank you all. My name is Jesse and I am accepting this award on behalf of 1.6 million runaway and homeless youth in the United States, who are starving, lost, and scared for their lives right now. I know this because I am one of these people."

The camera cuts to Cyrus, watching him speak with tears running down her cheeks.

"I've survived in shelters all over this city. I've cleaned your hotel rooms. I've been an extra in your movies. I've been an extra in your life. Though I may have been invisible to you in the streets, I have a lot of the same dreams that brought many of you here tonight.

"[The] Los Angeles entertainment capital has the largest population of homeless youth in America. The music industry will make over $7 billion this year. And outside these doors are 4,000 human beings who have no place to call home.

"If you want to make powerful change in the world right now, please join us and go to  Miley's Facebook page. A dream you dream alone, is only a dream. But a dream we dream together is a reality. Thank you so much for your time."

The charity Cyrus is supporting is "My Friends Place," a 26-year-old nonprofit that "assists and inspires homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives" in Los Angeles County.  It claims to have served 30,000 meals to the homeless youth population in the county this past year and helped more than 1,400 youths.

Cyrus also posted her own YouTube video in support of My Friends Place.

Of course, celebrities often use their fame to support charities and are often subject to criticism for a perceived lack of sincerity. One test will be how long Cyrus stays with this homeless campaign.

But for now, it appears Cyrus is taking up where Robin Williams has left off.

Williams starred as a homeless, ex-professor in the 1991 movie "The Fisher King." The actor and comedian testified before a Senate hearing about homelessness in 1990. And according to Brian Lord, who tried to book Williams for the Premiere Speaker's Bureau, when Williams was booked for an event, he required the company that hired him to also hire homeless people to fill smaller on-site positions.

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