Confidence, Tracey Ullman said. That’s what Americans exude. She learned this watching the telly during her childhood in a small English village, and she exhorted the 71 naturalized citizens assembled atop Jefferson’s mountain this morning to believe in themselves and, as new Americans, to exude some confidence of their own. The comedic actress and Emmy winner (seven times, as she good-naturedly pointed out to Monticello board chair Alice W. Handy, who, in her introduction, robbed Ullman of one statuette) was the keynote speaker for the 48th annual naturalization ceremony at Monticello. As has been tradition, the 70-minute event took place under a beating sun and before a full audience of flag-waving patriots and friends.
Ullman became a naturalized American in 2006, she said, because “I realized how much I loved this country” and because she wanted to vote. She recounted her first look at the New York skyline and how inspired she became after intensive study at the Museum of Broadcasting by comediennes like Lucille Ball, Carol Burnet and Gracie Allen—all women, she pointed out, who had their own TV shows.
And while her comments highlighted the affection for the U.S. that should be evident to anyone who has watched her on her own television shows over the past two decades, she allowed as to how “it’s not perfect here.”
“It can be puritanical and extreme,” she said, adding that with a national penchant for over-analyzing, “it’s like the whole nation is in perpetual group therapy.”
Ullman revealed that, given the auspiciousness of the occasion and the mighty setting for the event, she wondered if she were worthy of the honor bestowed on her to address the new citizens. But then she counseled herself to be confident. She’s earned it, she said, pointing to her achievement in introducing Americans to Bart and Homer Simpson, who debuted on her Fox program “The Tracey Ullman Show” in 1987. “I have made an indelible mark on the cultural heritage of this land,” she announced—a declaration that earned more than a few salutes from amongst the crowd.