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Queen Latifah kicks off SAG Awards with inspiring message for everyone

Listening to a handful of celebrities declare that they are actors may be the cheesiest part of the SAG Awards, but Queen Latifah’s opening message more than made up for what were a handful of otherwise cringe-worthy moments!

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The show kicked off with Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) explaining how happy he is to be an actor.

“If you had told me 69 years ago that I was going to grow up to be an actor,” started Tambor, “and that I was going to be in this august room, and be nominated for a SAG award in two categories for the role of Maura Pfefferman I would have said… Well, I wouldn’t have said anything because I was only one.”

After the requisite audience laughter, he finished with: “My name is Jeffrey Tambor, and I am so proud to be an actor.”

Which is an interesting way to start an awards show — but it’s one of the things that sets the SAG awards apart from other awards shows. The Screen Actors Guild Awards are, after all, a venue for actors to celebrate one another above all, and as a result, they’re allowed to get a bit cheesy.

But Queen Latifah‘s truth and power rang through the otherwise awkward set-up — especially in an awards season wracked with controversy over the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations.

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“I’ve often been told I’m not thin enough, I’m not white enough, I’m not short enough, I’m not man enough… damn it, I am enough! I’m Queen Latifah, and I’m an actor.”

Reactions were immediately positive!

The rest of the award show’s introductory “confessions” included a story from Veep‘s Anna Chlumsky about the best note she ever got from a casting director. According to Chlumsky, the casting director told her: “That’s great! Now just take the energy down 90 percent.” She then continued with, “I didn’t get that job. My name is Anna Chlumsky and I’m an actor.”

Kunal Nayyar (Big Bang Theory) took the opportunity to tell a funny story about his first acting gig.

“My first acting job was playing a terrorist on a very popular TV show. I couldn’t grow a mustache so they had to glue one on me. It was crooked. Then Mark Harmon punched me in the face.” Nayyar finished with: “It was the greatest moment of my life. My name is Kunal Nayyar and I’m so proud to be an actor.”

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And just when things were starting to get a little long, Mr. Robot‘s Rami Malek delivered the shortest declaration of the night.

“When I was a kid, I used to lock myself in the bathroom and create a collection of characters. I thought I was insane. My name is Rami Malek. I’m not insane, I’m an actor.”

In an industry where the line between “acting” and “insanity” is sometimes hard to discern, it’s nice to hear an actor make fun of the connection.

You can watch Queen Latifah’s moving speech below.

sag awards 2016 winners slideshow
Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Turner

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