Patricia Arquette is having a ‘wonderful time’ in her acting career, but the Emmy winner says she is still personally struggling with the death of her transgender sister.
Arquette said backstage Sunday night that she has been grieving heavily since Alexis Arquette, who was one of the first transgender activists in Hollywood, died at the age of 47 in 2016.
She made a tearful tribute to her late sibling during her acceptance speech after she won best supporting actress in a limited series for her role in the Hulu series The Act.
Patricia Arquette said backstage Sunday night that she is grieving heavily after sister Alexis Arquette died at the age of 47 in 2016
Patricia made a tearful tribute to Alexis, right, during her acceptance speech after she won best supporting actress. The siblings are pictured together in December 2006
Alexis, pictured in 2010, was transgender. She died from a heart attack and battled HIV for 29 years according to a death certificate
‘I just have to say I’m grateful to be working. I’m grateful to at 50 be getting the greatest parts of my life,’ she said as she collected her trophy.
During her speech, the 51-year-old actress urged an end to the persecution of trans people.
‘In my heart, I’m so sad,’ she said choking back tears. ‘I lost my sister Alexis. And that trans people are still being persecuted. And I’m in mourning every day of my life, Alexis. And I will be for the rest of my life, for you, until we change the world so that trans people are not persecuted.’
‘I think as an actor or actress, we try to act like everything is fine,’ said Arquette while holding her trophy backstage. ‘But the truth is, I’ve been having this heavy grief. I feel like I’m just starting the process. I really miss my sister.’
During her acceptance speech, Arquette also urged to end to the persecution of trans people, and backstage, called out comedians who joke about them saying: ‘That’s not acceptable.’
She also urged for more employment for trans people, who she says are in ‘deep poverty.’
‘Give them jobs,’ she added. ‘They’re human beings. Let’s give them jobs. Let’s get rid of the bias that we have everywhere.’
Before transitioning in the early 2000s, Alexis starred in multiple movies under the name Robert Arquette – but even back then, she made her film debut playing a trans woman called Georgette in the 1989 film of the novel Last Exit To Brooklyn.
During her acceptance speech, Arquette urged to end to the persecution of trans people, and backstage, called out comedians who joke about them
Patricia remembered: ‘We had conversations, we cried, we talked it through. Alexis said: ‘You know what, it’s okay. It’s a transition for everybody. It’s a transformation for everybody.’ So, I mean, we worked it out. We worked it through together, and Alexis knew we loved her to death.’
The pair were best friends and would talk on the phone daily.
Alexis suffered from HIV since 1987, and her death certificate revealed she had a bacterial heart infection for the last three weeks of her life.
She memorably played a trans sex worker in Last Exit to Brooklyn and a Boy George impersonator in The Wedding Singer.
Arquette wrote on social media after her death: ‘Alexis was a brilliant artist and painter, a singer, an entertainer and an actor.
Alexis Arquette pictured left in 2006. and right in 1999, memorably played a trans sex worker in Last Exit to Brooklyn and a Boy George impersonator in The Wedding Singer
‘Her career was cut short, not by her passing, but by her decision to live her truth and her life as a transgender woman.
‘Despite the fact that there are few parts for trans actors, she refused to play roles that were demeaning or stereotypical.
‘She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people.’
Arquette’s win is her second Emmy Award. She won outstanding lead actress in a drama series in 2005 for her performance on Medium.
Arquette also won an Oscar for supporting actress in 2014 for her performance in Boyhood. She has also won two Golden Globes.
Side by side: Alexis underwent her transition in the early 2000s; she is pictured with Patricia in 1999 back when she was still publicly known as Robert
Famous family: Actor David Arquette, left, Patricia Arquette, center and their sister Alexis Arquette, right are pictured together at a party in December 2006 in Los Angeles, California