Queer fans of Jennifer Coolidge have been lighting up social media since Monday night, when the actor and gay icon won her first Emmy — a recognition that was called “long overdue.”
They also blasted the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for seeming to play Coolidge off the stage during her acceptance speech, which Coolidge took in stride as she danced along to the music that was meant to wave her away and continue the show.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she pleaded just before an instrumental version of “Hit the Road Jack” started to play. “Wait, hold on!”
The 61-year-old actor struggled to thank people — “I didn’t think this was going to happen,” she said — after walking onstage to CeCe Peniston’s song “Finally” to accept her first award, for outstanding supporting actress in a limited or anthology series, from the television academy despite having spent decades in Hollywood.
True to form, she also lobbed a few jokes.
“You know, I took a lavender bath tonight, right before the show, and it made me swell up inside my dress, and I’m having a hard time speaking,” she quipped.
The speech garnered both praise for Coolidge and criticism for those who seemingly cut it short.
“Coolidge can take what would be for most a moment of panic and frustration and turn it into comedic gold,” pop culture writer Evan Ross Katz posted on Instagram. “And seamlessly! Watch it again and witness that magnificent brain at work.”
Coolidge’s was one of a number of memorable moments at the 74th Emmy Awards. Actor Sheryl Lee Ralph, who won outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for her role in ABC’s hit sitcom “Abbott Elementary,” broke out into song in her speech, prompting a standing ovation.
Coolidge won for her role in the first season of HBO’s popular social satire “The White Lotus,” created by writer and director Mike White, in which Coolidge plays an eccentric, grieving socialite.
Her performance, though a supporting one, fueled her already successful career, and she will be one of the only returning characters in the dark comedy’s upcoming second season.
For decades, Coolidge has cultivated somewhat of a cult following in the queer community, dating back to her character in the 2001 hit “Legally Blonde,” as the manicurist and friend of Reese Witherspoon’s character.
Following her scene-stealing role in “The White Lotus,” Coolidge starred alongside her real-life friend Kathy Najimy in “Single All the Way,” Netflix’s gay romance holiday film released in December in which Coolidge played the campy theatrical aunt of the movie’s gay lead. One of her scenes, where Coolidge’s character seems to break the fourth wall with an allusion to Coolidge’s actual queer fandom, was catapulted into the queer zeitgeist.
“The gays just know how to do stuff,” she says in the film. “For some reason, they’re always obsessed with me.”