Jeffrey Tambor took home the Emmy for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his gender transitioning role in Amazon's Transparent on Sunday, and when he took the stage, he was emotional.
"I had a teacher who used to say, 'When you act, you have to act as if your life depends on it.' Now I've been given the opportunity to act because people's lives depend on it," Tambor said onstage, getting choked up.
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The 71-year-old veteran actor thanked Transparent creator Jill Soloway, who won for Directing in a Comedy Series, and his "gorgeous" co-stars -- "everywhere you cast your eye, there's genius." He nearly broke down when he thanked his wife of more than a decade, Kasia Ostlun, for being the reason he’s on the Emmys stage.
But it was Tambor’s message to the transgender community that really brought the message home.
"Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your stories. Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for letting us be part of the change," he concluded his acceptance speech.
Following his win, Tambor spoke to ET’s Kevin Frazier backstage at the Microsoft Theater, where the former Arrested Development star admitted his nerves still haven’t settled.
“I’m still shaking,” he confessed to Frazier of his big moment, adding, "I'm the luckiest guy in the room!"
Earlier in the evening, Soloway took home her first Emmy and she used the moment to push for transgender equality by sharing a story about her "moppa" (a term used in Transparent that combines "momma" and "poppa").
"She could, tomorrow, go and try to find an apartment and in 32 states it would be legal for the landlord to look her in the eye and say, 'We don't rent to trans people,'" Soloway shared. "We don't have a trans tipping point yet, we have a trans civil rights problem."