“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Alex Borstein took home the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series during the annual awards ceremony Sunday night. The comedian gave a moving acceptance speech, telling the story of her grandmother, who survived the Holocaust.
Borstein, who portrays Maisel’s fiery manager Susie Myerson in the Amazon hit, began her speech with a joke about her 2018 Emmy attire. Last year, she accepted her Emmy for the same category without a bra on — and got backlash from some for the move.
“I know a lot of people were upset last year, ’cause I wasn’t wearing a bra,” she riffed to laughter from the audience. “So, I want to apologize because tonight I’m not wearing any underwear. So, you’re going to want to just throw that chair out or clean it pretty good.”
She continued the speech and dedicated the award to “the strength of a woman” — show runner, as well as “every woman” on the show’s cast and crew.
The actress also dedicated the Emmy to her mother and grandmother, both of whom are Holocaust survivors and immigrants. In an emotional moment, Borstein told the story of how her grandmother survived with an act of defiance.
“My grandmother turned to a guard, she was in line to be shot into a pit, and she said, ‘What happens if I step out of line?'” she recalled. “And he said, ‘I don’t have the heart to shoot you, but somebody will.’ And she stepped out of line. And for that I am here and for that my children are here.”
She also used the tale to encourage other women. “So, step out of line, ladies,” she said. “Step out of line.”
Borstein wasn’t the only person to use the platform afforded by the Emmy stage Sunday night. Actresses like Patricia Arquette and Michelle Williams gave impassioned speeches aimed at equality, with Arquette advocating for trans rights and Williams highlighting pay parity.