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Jenifer Lewis urged people to “be loud in their braveness” as she was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The 65-year old screen veteran said she wanted to use her platform to “educate and inspire” at the ceremony in Los Angeles on Friday.
The actress, unofficially known as “The Mother of Black Hollywood”, has appeared in more than 400 episodic television shows, 68 movies, 40 animations, and four Broadway productions.
Lewis was presented with the accolade by US composer Marc Shaiman and actress Debbie Allen, who praised her as a multifaceted talent.
During her acceptance speech she thanked fans for pushing to have her honoured on the Walk of Fame, but spoke candidly about her struggle with bipolar disorder.
“Here I am, a coloured girl from a small town called Kinloch, Missouri, and I will be etched in stone, right next to Katharine Hepburn,” she said.
“I assure you that was huge… because she was an advocate for women’s rights. She was the first actress to wear pants.
“Now I am trying to use my platform as Katharine Hepburn did to educate and inspire.”
She continued: “These are not dark times… these are awakening times.
“We all… have to be brave, we have to be brave and we have to be loud in that braveness.”
Among those supporting Lewis were actress Vanessa Bayer, singer Brandy Norwood, DJ Shangela Pierce, as well as several of her siblings and numerous members of the public.
Addressing her fans, she said: “I want to thank all of you who put those comments on the internet, things like ‘it’s long overdue’…’well deserved’…and my favourite ‘it’s about damn time’.
“But what you don’t know is I just wasn’t ready. Because I had not done the real work. The real work was off stage and off camera.
“When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, somehow I found the strength and the courage to say three of the most powerful words in the English language: I need help.
“So I went and got it. I won’t bore you with the details… read my book.”
She added: “Y’all I love life, I love that I got to do what I love to do with my life and I know I’m one of the lucky ones.
“Not everybody gets to do it.”
Lewis was born on January 25 1957 in Missouri, and is the youngest of seven children.
She began singing in her church choir at the age of five.
After college she accepted a role as a back-up singer for Bette Midler, which led to her first TV appearances on Midler’s HBO specials.
Lewis starred on ABC’s Black-ish for eight seasons as the hilarious grandmother Ruby Johnson as well as other well known US shows including The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, Friends, Cast Away, Rugrats, and American Dad.
She currently stars in the new hit series, I Love That For You alongside Bayer.
Her autobiography, The Mother Of Black Hollywood, became a chart-topping national best-seller in 2017, and her follow-up book, Walking In My Joy: In These Streets, is set for release on August 30.
The actress’ star is the 2,726th star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
Dedicated in the category of Television, it is located at 6284 Hollywood Boulevard.