Wanda Sykes Recalls the Time She 'Shushed' Michelle Obama at White House Correspondents' Dinner

"I was just thrown into the fire," she recalls of the night. "I had no idea the magnitude of people who would be in that room"

Wanda Sykes
Photo: Art Streiber/ABC

Wanda Sykes isn't nervous to host the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday.

The comedian and actress, 58, who's hosting the show alongside Amy Schumer and Regina Hall, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue that doing the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in 2009 more than prepared her for Hollywood's biggest night.

"I was just thrown into the fire," Sykes recalls. "I had no idea the magnitude of people who would be in that room."

One particular exchange from that night will stay with her forever.

"At the correspondents' dinner, I shushed the first lady," Sykes says. "Michelle Obama was sitting right next to me, and I'm going over my material, my jokes, and I'm focused on prep, and she's trying to make conversation. And I just gave her a look like, 'Woman, I'm working over here! What are you doing? Pipe down.' "

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"I think I'll be okay in this role," she says with a laugh.

ABC's late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel was the last Oscars host when he headlined the ceremony in both 2018 and 2017. Kevin Hart had been named as host of the 2019 show but stepped down amid controversy over his resurfaced insensitive tweets.

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Other hosts recent years have included Chris Rock, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Seth MacFarlane, Billy Crystal and the pairing of James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

After news of the trio's hosting gig was confirmed last month, Schumer wrote on Instagram that she was "honored to be performing with these legends" and proudly said, "Mama I made it!"

The 2022 Oscars are airing Sunday from Hollywood's Dolby Theatre on ABC.

For more from Wanda Sykes, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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