Jamie Lee Curtis acknowledged — and made light of — her “nepo baby” status while accepting her Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role on Sunday.
When it was time for the actrress’ speech, she recieved roaring applause from her peers, kissed her “Everything Everywhere All at Once” co-star Michelle Yeoh on the mouth, ran up on stage, and spoke frankly yet proudly about her career journey.
“I got my SAG card when I was 19 years old, when I signed a seven-year contract to Universal Studios and starred in an ABC TV series called the ‘Operation Petticoat’ which was based on the movie that my father, Tony Curtis — nepo baby! — starred in,” the “Everything Everywhere All at Once” actress said to laughter from the audience, overcome with emotion.
“I was fired from that TV show a year later and I thought my life was over,” she continued. “But the good news is that if I hadn’t been fired from ‘Operation Petticoat,’ I would have never had the opportunity to audition for a little tiny, no-budget horror movie called ‘Halloween.'”
She went on to passionately discuss what she loves about the business.
“I love actors. I love acting. I love the job we get to do. I love being a part of a crew. I love being a part of a cast. I love what we do with each other,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful job and I know that so many people in our industry who are actors don’t get to do this job, and you look at nights like this and think, ‘Is that ever gonna be possible for me?’”
Then, she acknowledged her “nepo baby” status again, saying “I know you look at me and go, ‘Nepo baby, that’s why she’s there,’ and I totally get it, but, the truth of the matter is: I’m 64 years old, and this is just amazing.”
Curtis’ joke came after the now-infamous “New York Magazine” cover story about nepo babies. Curtis — the daughter of actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh — responded in an Instagram Story post shortly after.
“I have been a professional actress since I was 19 years old so that makes me an OG Nepo Baby,” her post’s caption began. “I’ve never understood, nor will I, what qualities got me hired that day, but since my first two lines on ‘Quincy’ as a contract player at Universal Studios to this last spectacular creative year some 44 years later, there’s not a day in my professional life that goes by without my being reminded that I am the daughter of movie stars.”
She continued, “The current conversation about nepo babies is just designed to try to diminish and denigrate and hurt. For the record I have navigated 44 years with the advantages my associated and reflected fame brought me, I don’t pretend there aren’t any, that try to tell me that I have no value on my own.”
Watch the actress’ full acceptance speech in the video above.