Patricia Arquette won the “Supporting actress in a limited series or movie” Emmy for her role as Dee Dee Blanchard in “The Act”. She took the opportunity to honor her late transgender sister, Alexis Arquette, who tragically passed away in 2016 due to complications from HIV.
“I’m grateful at 50 to be getting the best parts of my life,” Patricia Arquette said in her speech, before paying an emotional tribute to her late sister, Alexis, “I’m so sad I lost my sister Alexis and that trans people are still being persecuted… Let’s get rid of this bias that we have everywhere”
Arquette fought through tears as she continued, “I’m in mourning every day of my life, Alexis, and will be the rest of my life, for you, until we change the world so that trans people are not persecuted, and give them jobs, they’re human beings let’s give them jobs.”
Patricia Arquette has had a successful 2019. In addition to winning her Emmy tonight, she won a litany of awards including the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for her work in Escape at Dannemora. She also won the 2015 Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress” for her role as the mother in the decades-spanning coming of age movie, Boyhood.
She’s used acceptance speeches to bring awareness to Trans rights before. In 2017, she won the Vanguard Award aat the 28th annual GLAAD Media Awards and said of her sister at the time, “She had a very successful career as an actor, and she knew she was risking losing work and her livelihood by living her truth, that she would lose parts by living her life as a trans woman. But she risked everything, she risked it all, because she knew she couldn’t live a life that was a lie.”
Fellow actors at the awards and fans on Twitter praised Arquette for her speech and using the platform to bring awareness to trans issues.
Who was Alexis Arquette?
Alexis Arquette was an actress and performer best known for her roles in Last Exit to Brooklyn, Of Mice and Men, Pulp Fiction and, most memorably, The Wedding Singer. She passed away at 47 years old on September 11, 2016, tragically succumbing to an infection in her liver that spread to the rest of her body.
Alexis’ brother Richmond Arquette first announced the news on Facebook, “Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis [has] passed,”
Alexis was a member of the powerhouse Arquette family that includes famous actors Rosanna, 57, Patricia, 48, and David, 45. She showed signs of being trans from an early age and said she “lining up with the girls, wanting to wear the dresses.”
The Arquette family moved to Front Royal, VA in 1970. After Rosanna became a star in the 1982 TV movie The Executioner’s Song and 1985’s Desperately Seeking Susan, Patricia Arquette recalls that kids in high school started “started calling Alexis ‘fag’ and ‘queer’ and so on. And of course I started fighting people,”
Alexis got her first acting role as young transvestite Georgette in the movie Last Exit to Brooklyn. Her performance was praised but she found it hard to get additional roles due to being a trans person.
“She was out and proud at 15 years old, at a time when that was just unheard of,” Fellow drag performer Sham Ibrahim told The Hollywood Reporter, “Directors and producers avoided her. She was rightfully angry that she should have had the success and notoriety that comes with being such a talented actor and being born into a family that presents the opportunity to you.”
She was best known for her hilarious performance as a Boy George impersonator in the movie The Wedding Singer. She also appeared in VH1’s celebrity reality show The Surreal Life in 2006 with The Jeffersons’ Sherman Hemsley and the lead singer of Smash Mouth.
“If I was a gambling lady and I wanted to make a bet of what life would be like after death, it’s sort of like a tear in the ocean,” Arquette said in a video filmed before her death, “They say that energy never goes away, but I don’t know if that’s true.”