Sharon Stone has worked steadily in film and television for almost 40 years now, but if you know her for only one thing, it’s probably a certain moment in 1992’s Basic Instinct. (You know the one.) So when she accepted GQ’s Woman of the Year award on Thursday, it was perhaps inevitable that that moment would come up — and Stone decided to use it to make a powerful point.
As Billy Porter (of all people) brought a chair to the stage, Stone recalled filming Basic Instinct‘s famous leg-crossing scene: “Some years ago… I was sitting on a soundstage, and my director said, ‘Can you hand me your underpants? Because we’re seeing them in the scene, and you shouldn’t have underpants on. But we won’t see anything.’ And I said, ‘Sure.’ I didn’t know that this moment would change my life.”
Stone then proceeded to recreate the scene, crossing her legs and asking the audience to join her. “Do you feel empowered?” she asked, then continued: “Each and every one of you is gonna have a moment like mine. A moment that changes your life. One you might be aware of when it’s happening, and one you might not.” (Stone has previously stated she was unaware she would be exposed onscreen in this scene.)
“So the time to decide who you are is now. The time to decide what you do with the tender, important, beautiful, savage, passionate, most important part of yourself,” she went on. “What are you gonna do with it? I’ll tell you what I did with mine. I respected it. And I would suggest that you all do the same. Because we have every right to be powerful in whatever form of sexuality we choose to have. And no one is allowed to take that away from you.”
Concluding her speech, Stone added, “I want to say thank you for choosing me to be Woman of the Year, because there was a time when all I was was a joke.”
You can watch the full speech below.