Hollywood luminary, comedic icon and openly lesbian LGBTQ equality advocate Lily Tomlin graciously (and hilariously) took home the Lifetime Achievement Award at the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards on Sunday night.
The career of loud and proud actor/comedian Tomlin, 77, continues to flourish through her command of unique, offbeat roles contributing to a decades-spanning canon of creative work. Tomlin’s most recent offerings to entertainment include her spot-on embodiment of the eccentric, eco-obsessive Frankie in the hit Netflix series “Grace and Frankie” (in which she and “9 to 5” costar Jane Fonda reunite with a shared billing and so much onscreen chemistry it’d break lab beakers). Although Fonda couldn’t attend the SAG awards, the third member of the classic feminist “9 to 5” trifecta, Dolly Parton, introduced Tomlin before her award acceptance, livening up the show with much-needed levity.
Tomlin then proceeded to steal the stage, launching into a speech packed with advice, nods to her wife/longtime life partner and the LGBTQ community, and amusing political barbs. Many SAG Awards recaps called Tomlin’s poignant words—and her signature style of delivering them in a manner that might seem rambling coming from anyone but her—the highlight of the night.
“After 50 years in the business, I find young actors are asking me for sage advice. Along with telling them to wear sunscreen, I suggest a few things you may find helpful. Don’t leave the house when you’re drunk. And if you’re already out there, well, you must learn to tell when you’ve had too much to drink. Listen to your friends when they stop talking to you and start talking *about* you, saying things like, ‘Did she have a purse?'” she joked.
Out for years, Tomlin, ever the fierce advocate, made sure to give props to her wife (“My partner, Jane Wagner, on whose shoulders I stand the tallest…”) and call out the current administration on various issues including LGBTQ rights and so-called “alternative facts,” while (echoing Meryl Streep, in her now-famous Golden Globes acceptance speech), never once mentioning the name of Donald Trump or any of his political henchmen.
“I feel like I’m just getting started,” Tomlin concluded. “What sign should I make for the next march? Global warming, Standing Rock, LGBT issues, Chinese missiles. There’s lots to do. … We can all go out and really change things, and as long as I don’t have to audition, I just may be back.”