There can be 100 Best Actress awards and 99 committees don’t believe Lady Gaga deserves them, but all it takes is one for the actor-slash-musician to be able to say she got official recognition for her performance in House of Gucci. Wednesday night’s New York Film Critics Awards presented Gaga’s very last chance at winning a Best Actress award, and she not only snagged it: She also gave an acceptance speech long enough to make up for all of those she didn’t get to deliver. Seriously: It clocked in at more than 13 minutes. (Guillermo del Toro, on the other hand, kept it short and sweet when introducing her: “Lady Gaga is not in House of Gucci; Lady Gaga is House of Gucci.”)
“This really means the absolute world to me, and I am so incredibly honored to receive this award in my hometown, Manhattan, New York,” Gaga, who wore a strapless black dress by Jason Wu topped off with Tiffany & Co. jewelry, said. “There’s a sense in which I feel like I’ve been preparing for this role my entire life. And I know I’ve put my whole life into it, and I know everybody in this room, you all do that too.”
From there, a tearful Gaga emotionally highlighted the connections between the film and her Italian roots. “I wasn’t born in Italy, but I am a Germanotta and I am a proud descendant of my Venetian and Sicilian ancestors,” she said. “Learning to speak in a Northern dialect felt like reading poetry to me. I’m going to tell you how hard I worked, because I want to remind you and tell you and thank you for this award and that you did okay. I spent hundreds of hours reading interviews aloud with this accent and just speaking constantly in this style, Patrizia [Gucci] never leaving me. Immersing myself in the glory, history of Italian art, religion, fashion, and music. It wasn’t just about trying to transform myself; it was more importantly about tapping into a part of my heritage that’s been with me since before I was even born. Every day I began work by putting my feet on the ground and feeling the Italian soil under my feet, knowing that’s where I came from and that’s what made me everything I am today.”
“I accept this award on behalf of my Italian ancestors, and behalf of my love of all things Italian,” Gaga continued. “This extends the legacy of my great family,” who, she added, came to the U.S. via Ellis Island in the early 1900s without knowing any English. “This award marks the end of a very long, beautiful journey. I’m really sad it’s ending. It’s really hard to say goodbye to art because you learn so much about yourself.” Gaga is not, however, saying goodbye to awards season just yet: She’ll make it to the stage of the Oscars after all, though to give an award rather than receive one.