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Glenn Close, Variety's Power Of Women

Brian Ach/Getty Images for Variety

It was an understandably emotional day for Glenn Close at the Variety 2015 Power of Women luncheon in New York City.

The actress is one of five honorees this year, and she accepted her award with a heartfelt speech that brought the entire room—including her—to tears.

Close founded the nonprofit Bring Change 2 Mind in 2010 in an effort to raise awareness and end mental illness stigma, an issue that touches close to home for her as her sister and nephew suffer from bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, respectively.

"As an actress, I have terrified men and I certainly terrified children but I have yet to really terrify women. There is very little that frightens us. Many of us feel we must hide or suppress our truth in order to protect ourselves and our families from judgment, shame and stigma," she explained.

"I am a 12th generation of stoic, hardworking and pull-up-your-socks kind of family. The subject of mental illness was about as well-talked about in our house as the Democrat...of course, that has changed. We were a family with no vocabulary for mental illness. It was never discussed."

Close turned to friend—and fellow honoree—Whoopi Goldberg and said, "Whoopi, I feel if Robin [Williams] was here today, he would be whispering in my ear, 'a couple of jokes would help right now.'"

Close previously shared with Variety that shedding light to the issue of mental health is one that is of the utmost importance to her, telling the magazine that the charity believed "the best thing to do was work against the stigma that surrounds mental illness. It's a chronic illness like anything else."