Lily Tomlin backstage at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards

January 30, 2017

by Carla Hay

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards took place on January 29, 2017, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.


SAG Award win:

Life Achievement Award

Here is what this SAG Award winner said backstage in the SAG Awards press room.


Lily Tomlin at the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on January 29, 2017.
Lily Tomlin at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)


This honor that you’ve been given tonight is not only for your incredible acting repertoire but also for what you’ve done in the community and things that you campaign for that you believe in. How much do you think it’s important to use awards shows like this to raise these issues in to comment on them?

I don’t know if you can’t be a little bit entertaining at the same time. It probably falls on deaf ears. I’m not sure. So many people are activists now, and they so understand about expressing themselves and taking that platform to use it. It may be it may kind of melt, but on the other hand, I think that stars that people really have affection for and have and care for in some degree, I think what they say does land home—or I hope it doesn’t just land on the ears of people who are inclined as they are already.

The main thing you really should be talking about is legislation. Any activist should really be talking about how to mount some kind of legislation against whatever it is that they are opposed to. You’ve got to change the laws. Trump is changing the laws now and that’s he’s trying to change the laws, but you know …

I don’t want to make this comparison. I’m not making it anyway, but the Nazis, they changed the law if it didn’t agree with them. They just change them, and they could do whatever they wanted. Now that was over a period of time. And so I think we have to be vigilant and stop certain behaviors so that someone who has not thought something through doesn’t get too far in the process.

If they get too far they might believe it themselves that it’s true and it should be pursued. So we need to be vigilant and we need to agree when he may have a good idea or she may have a good idea. And we should be resistant when they don’t. Oh my gosh, I feel like I’m talking to someplace in Germany many decades ago.

What do you wish you knew then that you know now that takes you into every job you do?

I guess I wish I’d known to just be more myself instead of trying to stretch my myself my face my voice everything into a character. Although I’ve had great fun with all those characters, and if I had another idea I would do one. Although I didn’t know this—see I

wasn’t ignorant I even as a young child. I knew to use sunscreen. I really did. I used to read my mother’s beauty magazines, and they would say, “Look at the skin on your behind, how good it is, compared to the skin on your face.” This is meant for an older woman.

And I thought, “That’s true. Your skin on your behind is covered up most of the time and you are not subject to the ultraviolet rays of the sun.” So I started using sunscreen, although I have been lapse. I have to admit that and that’s the result, but if I hadn’t, I think I would look better than I do now, even though I do look pretty good. But I think using sunscreen is good advice for men and women—not just women. I don’t want to make that a woman’s issue at all.