Jamie Lee Curtis Jokes About Being a Nepo Baby in 'I Am an Actor' SAG Awards 2023 Monologue

The "I Am an Actor" tradition began at the first SAG Awards in 1995, when Angela Lansbury introduced the concept

Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis. Photo: Nina Westervelt/Shutterstock

The 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards have commenced with the traditional "I Am an Actor" opening, which sees stars share their favorite, sometimes hilarious, memories from their careers.

When it was time for Jamie Lee Curtis' speech, she instantly received roaring cheers from her peers. She then spoke about her own career's journey and was perfectly okay taking some jabs at her own rise.

"I got my SAG card when I was 19 years old, when I signed a seven-year contract to Universal Studios and starred in an ABC TV series called the Operation Petticoat, which was based on the movie that my father, Tony Curtis — nepo baby! — starred in," the Everything Everywhere All at Once star, 64, said to laughter from the audience.

"I was fired from that TV show a year later and I thought my life was over," she continued. "But the good news is that if I hadn't been fired from Operation Petticoat, I would have never had the opportunity to audition for a little tiny, no-budget horror movie called Halloween."

Curtis' "nepo baby" joke comes after a 2022 New York magazine cover story examined the phenomenon at-length, sparking conversation amongst industry folk and fans alike. The actress responded to the commentary in an Instagram Story post shortly after.

"I have been a professional actress since I was 19 years old so that makes me an OG Nepo Baby," her post's caption began. "I've never understood, nor will I, what qualities got me hired that day, but since my first two lines on Quincy as a contract player at Universal Studios to this last spectacular creative year some 44 years later, there's not a day in my professional life that goes by without my being reminded that I am the daughter of movie stars."

She continued, "The current conversation about nepo babies is just designed to try to diminish and denigrate and hurt. For the record I have navigated 44 years with the advantages my associated and reflected fame brought me, I don't pretend there aren't any, that try to tell me that I have no value on my own."

29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, California, USA - 26 Feb 2023
David Fisher/Shutterstock

Curtis appeared in Sunday's "I Am an Actor" monologue alongside Abbott Elementary nominees Quinta Brunson and Janelle James, Niecy Nash-Betts and Bob Odenkirk.

The "I Am an Actor" opening began at the first SAG Awards in 1995, when Angela Lansbury introduced the concept of the ceremony and told the audience a little bit about herself.

"I've been Elizabeth Taylor's sister, Spencer Tracy's mistress, Elvis's mother and a singing teapot," Lansbury said before commending her fellow actors in the audience. "Tonight is dedicated to the art and craft of acting by the people who should know about it: actors. And remember, you're one too!"

The tradition has continued for many years, with actors speaking on their experience in the industry, ending their speech with the affirmation: "I am an actor."

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The 2023 SAG Awards ceremony are airing live on Netflix's YouTube Channel from the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

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