Jennifer Coolidge Says Her Dad Helped Her Play Hooky — and Sparked Her Career — at 2023 SAG Awards

The White Lotus star called out her "amazing parents" during her acceptance speech for outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 26: Jennifer Coolidge accepts the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series award for “The White Lotus” onstage during the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on February 26, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty

The White Lotus actress Jennifer Coolidge won outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series award at the 2023 Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday, and shared some insight into her earliest inspirations that led her down her career path.

"It's been a very special year, and it's overwhelming," Coolidge, 61, said while accepting the honor, which she won over fellow nominees Elizabeth Debicki (The Crown), Julia Garner (Ozark), Laura Linney (Ozark) and Zendaya (Euphoria).

The Legally Blonde vet went on to thank her "amazing parents," providing an anecdote in particular about her dad and his influence on her career choice.

Relating a memory in which her father had her unexpectedly released from class in first grade under the pretense she needed to leave for illness, Coolidge explained that her dad had told a lie for a specific purpose.

"I got in the car with my dad," she recalled. "He said, 'I'm never going to tell a lie again, but we're going somewhere really cool.' And he drove me to the Charlie Chaplin Film Festival."

RELATED VIDEO: The White Lotus Stars Sabrina Impacciatore and Jon Gries On Working with Jennifer Coolidge: "She is The Magic"

Coolidge credited that festival as the catalyst for falling in love with Hollywood. "It's my love of film, it's my love of actors," she said. "All of that came from my first grade."

Coolidge also shouted out her date, fellow actor Tim Bagley. "You're a wonderful date tonight," she said. "I can't wait until we get home."

For The White Lotus Season 2, Coolidge stepped back into the role of fan favorite character Tanya McQuoid. The actress — who also won her first primetime Emmy for the role in September and took home a Golden Globe last month — almost passed on the job entirely because she didn't feel like she was in "fighting shape" after gaining weight during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine.

Haley Lu Richardson, Jennifer Coolidge HBO, The White Lotus, Season 2 - Episode 3
Haley Lu Richardson and Jennifer Coolidge in The White Lotus. Photograph by Fabio Lovino/HBO

Luckily, a good friend of Coolidge's talked her into taking the role anyway. "That girlfriend just gave me this [pep talk and said], 'You are out of your mind,' " she shared. "'Just go, just f---ing go do it. Are you ever going to be in shape?' "

Coolidge added, "For once in my life, I listened. Usually, I have my own thing in my head but I listened."

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The 29th Screen Actors Guild Awards are being broadcast live on Netflix's YouTube channel.

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