By Samantha Highfill
January 05, 2020 at 09:58 PM EST
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During Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, Kate McKinnon took the stage to present Ellen DeGeneres with the second-ever Carol Burnett Award, which is given to someone who has made outstanding contributions to the television medium.

McKinnon delivered an emotional speech, paying tribute to the path that DeGeneres paved. “In 1997, when Ellen’s sitcom was at the height of its popularity, I was in my mother’s basement lifting weights in front of the mirror and thinking, ‘Am I gay?’” McKinnon said, adding, “And I was and I still am. But that’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself, it’s sort of like doing 23AndMe and discovering that you have alien DNA.

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“And the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV. She risked her entire life and her entire career in order to tell the truth and she suffered greatly for it. Of course, attitudes change but only because brave people like Ellen jump into the fire to make them change. And if I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would’ve thought, ‘I can never be on TV, they don’t let LGBTQ people on TV,’ and more than that, I would’ve gone on thinking that I was an alien and that I maybe didn’t even have a right to be here, so thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot.”

After accepting the award, DeGeneres headed to the press room, where she was asked whom she looks up to. Her response? “Kate McKinnon. I look up to — not just people that are older than me but people that are starting out now and paving the way,” DeGeneres said. “I think Kate McKinnon is brilliant and I think she’s strong and I think she’s brave, so I look up to her.”

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