From “Best in Show” to best in her acting category.
Jennifer Coolidge won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series for her role as Tanya McQuoid in “White Lotus” Monday — marking the most prestigious award the 61-year-old comedic actor has received in her nearly 20-year career.
Coolidge’s acceptance speech was as offbeat as many of her performances. She made jokes about taking a lavender bath that made her bloat ― and seemed to do a whole lot of cursing. But the moment that made her acceptance speech truly great was when music began to play, signaling that it was time for her to wrap up and get off the stage — and she instead opted to rebel.
“Wait, hold on, one thing! Wait, hold on! Wait hold on. OK,” she said before beginning to dance to the exit music.
Coolidge — a graduate of Los Angeles’ famed improv troupe The Groundlings — began her professional career as Jerry Seinfeld’s massage therapist in a 1993 episode “Seinfeld.” From there she got parts in 1999’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” and1998’s “A Night at the Roxbury,” the latter of which co-starred her fellow Groundlings alum Will Ferrel.
Coolidge’s breakout role came in 1999 when she played Stiffler’s mom in the “American Pie” franchise — a part that launched the term “MILF” into the zeitgeist and that Coolidge recently joked helped her sleep with “like 200 people.”
But at the time, sleep was probably not an option for Coolidge as her career quickly took off — snagging beloved roles like Paulette in 2001’s “Legally Blonde” and becoming a regular actor in Christopher Guest’s mockumentary films like 2000’s “Best in Show” 2003’s “A Mighty Wind” and 2006’s “For Your Consideration.”
Yet, her once-promising career began to waver in the 2010s when she started to get regulated to mostly humorous guest starring roles as the token quirky character in larger projects. At the time, she also seemed to grow weary of Hollywood and expressed resentment towards the idea that female actors had to be thin to book interesting roles.
“I probably screwed myself out of a lot of great roles,” Coolidge told the Miami New Times in 2011. “I just don’t take any of it very seriously. Like, I’d be on set with girls who weren’t eating, and I’d be like ‘Oh, too bad you’re not eating.’ It never occurred to me to join them.”
“I want the parts, but I don’t want to work that hard for them. Starving yourself just seems like too much of a commitment,” she added.
Coolidge told Jimmy Fallon on the “The Tonight Show” in January that her career in the mid-2010s had entered a self-described “dead zone.”
That was until pop star Ariana Grande said she was a fan of Coolidge and did an impression of her on the “The Tonight Show” in 2018 — and a friend of Coolidge encouraged her to reach out to Grande.
Coolidge did, and the move completely revived her career.
“And then the next thing you know, I was like going to her house getting a wardrobe fitting for ‘thank u, next,’” Coolidge told Fallon in January.
Then, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Coolidge’s friend Mike White offered her the role of Tanya McQuoid in “White Lotus” — a part he had written with Coolidge in mind.
Coolidge told Fallon in January that she initially didn’t want to take the role due to insecurities about her body, joking that during the pandemic she was eating “maybe six pizzas a day.”
“I tried to figure out ways to get out of it,” she admitted.
White texted Coolidge asking if she was “afraid” to take the role — and thanks to a friend’s encouragement — she took the gig.
Coolidge’s Tanya — a needy and self-involved woman who travels to Hawaii to spread her mother’s ashes — quickly became a fan-favorite in “White Lotus.”
The role earned her a 2022 Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series in March, and an Emmy on Monday.
Here’s hoping all of Coolidge’s long-time fans are doing the bend-and-snap in her honor.