Geena Davis Gives Special Shout-Out to Lizzo While Accepting Governors Award at 2022 Emmys

"In the time since I launched the institute, we've made a great deal of progress. But still, there's more work to do," added Geena Davis, as she accepted the Governors Award on Monday

US actress Geena Davis accepts the Governors Award on behalf of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media onstage during the 74th Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, on September 12, 2022.
Photo: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty

Geena Davis took the stage at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards to speak out on her work with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender In Media.

The Television Academy awarded Davis with the Governors Award on Monday night for her work with the foundation, which she founded in 2004, "in recognition of their efforts to promote gender balance and foster inclusion throughout the entertainment industry."

"Since 2004, the institute has been fighting for equality and representation, long before it was comfortable to take that stand," said Governors Award selection committee co-Chair Kim Taylor-Coleman in a statement last month. Committee co-chair Michael Spiller added, "The institute's work continues to result in real-world changes that have an impact far beyond the sound stages and locations we show up at every day."

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According to Davis, "We know that in many sectors of our society true gender equality may take many years to achieve, but there's one space where parity can be reached virtually overnight: on screen."

Sarah Paulson and Shonda Rhimes raved about Davis' intellect and role as an industry change-maker as they presented her with the honor. Stars including Rosario Dawson, Rashida Jones and Meryl Streep also appeared in a montage to speak about the importance of representing women in media before Davis took the stage, joined by the foundation's CEO Madeline Di Nonno.

74th Primetime Emmys - Arrivals

"We want to thank the Academy TV Board of Governors for this incredible honor," Davis, 66, began. "This recognition of our mission and our achievements means so much to Madeline and I and our team, who are here in numbers tonight."

Davis then took a moment to give a brief but special shout-out to Lizzo. Moments earlier, the 34-year-old singer gave an emotional speech about the importance of representation in media after her Prime Video series, Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, won for outstanding competition program.

"Tonight's about honoring the best of television and as you know, as Lizzo knows, television can often directly impact how people see themselves and judge their value in the world," Davis continued. "And in the time since I launched the institute, we've made a great deal of progress. But still, there's more work to do."

The actress added: "Of course, many of the content creators that we have partnered with are here tonight, many of you. So thank you all for your support. And if there's anybody else that thinks we won't be able to help you, just call us. Thank you, guys. Thanks."

Davis previously told PEOPLE that motherhood prompted her to found the Institute.

"From when [my children] were little, I've always watched movies and TV with them and I would often lean over to say, 'There's only boys in that scene. Why do you think that is?'" she recalled. "I was bothered by the idea that we were showing kids a very imbalanced world from the beginning…I saw that there were so far fewer female characters than male characters."

She added, "I didn't intend to make it my life's mission, but it has become that now."

Geena Davis
Justin Ford/Getty

Davis is a two-time Oscar winner, for her supporting work in 1988's The Accidental Tourist and as the 2020 recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. She received a 2006 Emmy nomination for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for her portrayal of groundbreaking President Mackenzie Allen on ABC's Commander in Chief.

Previous recipients of the Governors Award have included Debbie Allen, Tyler Perry, Star Trek, American Idol and PBS's Masterpiece Theater.

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The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards are being broadcast live on NBC from the Microsoft Theater in ‎Los Angeles.

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