Jeffrey Tambor, the Transparent Emmy nominee calls Jenner "a great beacon to look up to"
Credit: Joshua Blanchard/Getty

As Jeffrey Tambor prepares to battle it out for best actor at the Emmy Awards for his groundbreaking role as the transgender Maura Pfefferman on Amazon’s Transparent, he has one person he wants to give a nod to regardless of if he wins or loses – Caitlyn Jenner.

“I’m just so happy for the wonderful light and courage that she is showing,” Tambor, 71, told PEOPLE at the 2015 Television Industry Advocacy Awards Gala benefiting The Creative Coalition in partnership with TV Guide Magazine and in Los Angeles on Friday. “Celebrity is meaningful if it helps people, and she’s down for that. You can see that. She means it.”

Tambor, who was honored at the event for his work with youth empowerment, shares the same goal of Jenner, 65, to help children in distress.

“I care about the little one in Des Moines who is struggling about being in the wrong body, and Caitlyn is a great beacon for them to look up to,” he said. “She’s a light and a love and a freedom being shown.”

Though Tambor doesn’t credit Transparent‘s success to Jenner’s own journey or vice versa (“I wouldn’t go the chicken or the egg,” he said), he does recognize the amazingly positive effect both are having on society.

“The zeitgeist has changed. Everything is moving forward. Thank goodness hate is retreating to the rear where it belongs. We are realizing we’re human beings and we have to connect or we ain’t gonna make it,” he told PEOPLE.

And regardless if he wins the Emmy or not, Tambor is grateful just to be included in the journey.

“Just to be a part of this is a huge honor,” Tambor added. “I’m the luckiest guy in the room. I wake up every day and ask people to pinch me.”

The Caitlyn Jenner Story: From Olympic Icon to Transgender Hero

Tambor revealed in August that the cast of Transparent had dinner with Jenner over the summer.

“She’s amazing and gorgeous, and very dedicated,” Tambor told The Late Late Show host James Corden. “You know, the bottom line about all of this is this is serious business. It’s about safety – lives are at stake. And she was very, very, very beautiful about it, and she’s very well-intentioned. I was very impressed.”