Cher shares her proudest career moment (Exclusive)

Cher is opening up about her storied career!

ET's Brooke Anderson caught up with the iconic singer at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, where she was honored alongside Reba McEntire and others. Ahead of receiving the massive distinction, Cher revealed what she considers the proudest moment in her career.

"The Academy Award," the 72-year-old said of her 1988 win for Best Actress in Moonstruck. "... As [Paul Newman] opened the thing and pulled out the card I went deaf and, when he took a breath, I thought, 'It's not because you don't need a breath to say Cher.' And then when I won it it was one of the most thrilling moments of my life."

As for the Kennedy Center Honor, Cher was floored when she heard she'd nabbed the award.

"I actually never expected to win this," she admitted. "I'm not sure why, but I felt like, like Meryl [Streep] wins this kind of award and I just never thought I would win it."

18 PHOTOS
Sonny and Cher over the years
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Sonny and Cher over the years
Musical duo Sonny Bono And Cher dancing at the party following the premiere of the movie 'Dr Dolittle', at the Hollywood Paramount Theatre, CA, December 21st 1967. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
12th December 1967: A headshot of married American pop singers Cher (left) and Sonny Bono (1935 - 1998) of the pop duo Sonny and Cher at an S.D.G. party for actor James Coburn. Cher has bangs and a bouffant ponytail on top of her head; she wears dramatic eye makeup and false eye lashes. Sonny wears a bohemian peasant blouse with floral embroidery. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 12 Singer Sonny Bono and singer Cher on June 12, 1977 arrive at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
KRAFT MUSIC HALL -- 'The Phyllis Diller Happening' Episode 1006 -- Pictured: (l-r) Sonny & Cher: Cher, Sonny Bono -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Close-up of Sonny Bono and Cher head-to-head, looking upward. (Photo by Arnaud de Rosnay/Condé Nast via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - MAY 19: Sonny and Cher on THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR. Image dated May 19, 1967. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
British model and actress Twiggy (right) with American singing duo Sonny Bono (1934 - 1998) and Cher at an outdoor party given to welcome Twiggy to Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, April 30, 1967. Sonny and Cher are wearing matching saffron outfits of a thick patterned material. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Sonny & Cher 1965 (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)
(NO AGENCIES IN UK, FRANCE, GERMANY, HOLLAND, SWEDEN, FINLAND, JAPAN.) Sonny & Cher 1965 during Music File Photos - The 1960s - by Chris Walter at the Music File Photos 1960's in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)
GERMANY - CIRCA 1960: Photo of SONNY & CHER (Photo by K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns)
1970: Sonny (1935-1998) and Cher Bono pose for a promotional photo for 'The Sonny and Cher Show' in 1970. (Photo by Martin Mills/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Hollywood: Sony Bono and Cher Allman, failled to attain success in separate show business careers following their estrangement and divorce, said a press conference they are getting back together next year in a new television variety show. They emphasized that the reunion was soley for business purposes. Remarriage was not in their future, they said.
LAUGH-IN -- Episode 5 -- Aired 02/01/1978 -- Pictured: Sonny Bono -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
CIRCA 1978: Entertainers Sonny Bono & Cher attend an event in circa 1978. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Portrait of Cher and Sonny Bono photographed in 1965.; (Photo by King Collection/Photoshot/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Sonny and Cher are together again- on television and briefly July 14. After Sonny Bono finished performing on the Tonight Show, Cher came on as a surprise guest. It was assumed that Sonny knew that Cher, his former wife, was going to come on, but actor George Segal, guest host, didn't. Sonny and Cher were divorced June 27th. Cher married Greg Allman June 30th and there were reports that she filed for divorce nine days later.
Portrait of singing duo Sonny Bono and Cher, wearing formal dress on an outdoor patio, circa 1975. (Photo by Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images)
Cher and Sonny during Sonny Bono and Cher Arrive at JFK - July 20, 1977 at JKF Airport in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
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While Cher was gifted with a performance by Cyndi Lauper and a tribute from Whoopi Goldberg during the ceremony, Kelly Clarkson was on hand to sing for Reba. It was Cher, though, that Kelly was overjoyed to meet for the first time.

"Hi! I'm Kelly Clarkson! Nice to meet you!" the 36-year-old singer gushed, with ET's camera catching the red carpet exchange. "I have never met you, I've been talking about you this whole time going, 'She's right behind me!!'"

A flustered Kelly continued praising the "If I Could Turn Back Time" signer, exclaiming, "I'm a big fan, obviously everyone here is, I'm gonna stop talking. OK, yeah, I get very nervous." "

"I'm so happy to meet you!" Cher told Kelly.

36 PHOTOS
Cher's Style Transformation
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Cher's Style Transformation
Is that a Komondor draped on Cher's lap (see: dogs that look like a mop) or just a way over-the-top fur coat?
Sonny and Cher perform in all white on the "Carol Burnett Show."
Sonny wears a fur vest and matching boots, while Cher went for stripes from head-to-toe.
Cher's outfit is perfectly '60s, with a floral jumpsuit complete with bellbottoms. 
Sonny and Cher pose for a portrait session at home, Cher dressed in firey red.
Cher wears brightly striped bellbottoms, for a portrait session in her home.
Cher is willing to bare her midriff in this matching crop top and pants.
Sonny and Cher in New York City, Cher wearing a casual tied button-up.
Cher attends the Grammy Awards with a large butterfly pin in her hair and bright purple eyeshadow.
Cher goes incognito as she and Chasity are out and about in New York City.
Cher looks like she ought to be at the Kentucky Derby with this oversized hat! But we applaud her for shielding her skin from the sun.
Cher wears an interesting headdress with this large fur coat.
Sheer and sparkling, Cher wears a beaded dress to the Academy Awards.
In a total departure from her usual style, Cher wears a miniskirt and sneakers and ... she's blonde.
Tame that mane! Cher dyes her hair purple, but if that isn't enough, spikes it up like a lion's mane.
Cher attends the Met's Costume Institute Gala Exhibition of "Costumes of Royal India," wearing a sheer top and way too much light makeup.  
Never one to shy away from a crazy outfit, Cher attended the 58th Annual Academy Awards in this risque dress and matching headdress.
We typically throw a blazer on over an outfit to dress it up a bit, but we're not sure it works when you have distressed jeans with hearts on them.
Cher's dress for the 60th Annual Academy Awards is a wardrobe malfunction just waiting to happen!
Well, at least this look is for a Halloween party.  Cher attends Bob Mackie's party for the holiday, dressed as Cleopatra.
Cher attends the "Mermaids" Beverly Hills Premiere in a slightly see-through lace minidress.
Cher is a red vixen in this sparkling number for the filming of "The Player."
Cher wears a long fur coat over a black ensemble for the 1997 Golden Globes.
The lady is definitely proud of her body, wearing another sheer dress to the Academy Awards with an interesting matching hat.
There's a lot of different fabrics and prints going on here for Cher at the 26th Annual American Music Awards.
Cher channels her '60s style when she goes back to blonde for the "Love Rocks" concert to honor U2's Bono.
Blonde works for Cher, but we're not so sure these pants do.
Cher attended the 50th Annual Grammy Awards in a dress that honestly resembled a trash bag! What she or her stylist were thinking is beyond us.
This dress is much better.  Attending the Golden Globes, Cher still keeps it interesting but wears a sleek silhouette.
Cher attends the 38th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Mike Nichols in an intricately designed top with a maxi skirt.
Cher attends the Glamour Magazine 2010 Women of the Year Gala, keeping the rocker in her at the forefront with this leather jacket and pin.
Cher looks lovely in this black and gold dress, keeping her favorite accent (sheer) as a part of it with lace sleeves.
It's official, Cher has tried just about every hair color! She chose a vibrant red for the premiere of "Burlesque."
Back to black and a much more casual look, Cher attends the premiere of "Zookeeper."
We're loving this classic look: all black with a great coat and simple sleek hair.
Cher chooses a lace top with black pants and a blazer for AFI's Night at the Movies.
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