The actress fought back tears on Today as she talked about how much her new project means – and its connection to her mother

By Julia Emmanuele
Updated September 22, 2015 05:35 PM
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Credit: Matthias Clamer/FOX

No matter how big a fan of Glee or American Horror Story you are, there’s no way you’re as excited to see Scream Queens hit the small screen as Jamie Lee Curtis.

“We’ve been working on the show for a long time, and today it’s being born,” Curtis told Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb during an appearance on the fourth hour of Today on Tuesday.

She continued, choking up, “And I’ve got to tell you, if you don’t think that I am so grateful at 56 years old to have this job at this moment in my life, when – as I’ve said – I’ve done advertising for people and I’ve done some really terrible movies and TV shows just to live my life.

“I just woke up this morning weeping at this moment in my life. At this moment for me,” the actress revealed.

But it wasn’t just the opportunity to dig her teeth into the role of Dean Munsch that had Curtis so overwhelmed with gratitude. The part also allows her to pay homage to her mother, Janet Leigh, whose iconic death scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho has become one of the most enduring images of the genre.

During her interview with Gifford and Kotb, Curtis – who was wearing a tiara given to her by a close friend because “every queen needs a crown” – also revealed that she didn’t see Ryan Murphy‘s script before she decided to sign on to the project.

“I got a call from Ryan Murphy, and I actually didn’t read [the script] until two, three weeks before we started shooting,” Curtis said. “So there were six months where everyone would say, ‘How’s the new show?’ and I’d [shrug]”.

Still, despite how happy she has been to work on Scream Queens, Curtis revealed to PEOPLE that she’s not really a horror fan at all.

“It is the genre they gave me my career, and I am therefore respectful of it. It’s not something I enjoy. I don’t like scary things. Life is scary enough,” Curtis tells PEOPLE.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that other scaredy-cats should avoid the show themselves: “It really has become a hybrid where you provide big comic element with really scary elements,” she says. “And I think that’s not necessarily unique anymore but when you add Ryan Murphy through it, it becomes a wicked social satire.”

So it would seem there’s really nothing here to be scared of – unless you’re one of the mean girls in the Kappa sorority, that is.

With reporting by PATRICK GOMEZ

RELATED VIDEO: Abigail Breslin: Scream Queens ‘Pushes the Envelope’

Scream Queens

premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.