Jeffrey Tambor did his best Hebrew school teacher imitation to shush the Emmy Awards band when it struck up a tune to nudge him off stage.
As the band started playing to indicate that Tambor should wrap things up, the best actor honoree still had an important message to deliver. So he used the hebrew term “sheket b’vakasha” (“quiet please”) to shush them.
Sheket b’vakasha is a throwback to the good old days of Hebrew school, where teachers often say it to keep unruly children in line. And judging from the big laughter and round of applause Tambor got, a surprisingly big part of the audience used to spend their afternoons trapped in a classroom learning the aleph-bet while their friends played Little League and watched cartoons.
Once he successfully stopped the band from playing him off, Tambor made a powerful appeal to the television industry on behalf of the transgender community.
“You people out there, you producers and you network owners and you agents and you creative sparks, please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions,” he said. “Give them their story.”
And then he added: “I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to play a female transgender on television. We have work to do. I love you.”
Tambor won the award for lead actor for his role as Mort, the head of a Jewish family who is transgender.
Lilly Maier is a news intern at the Forward. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @lillymmaier.