The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards exist to recognize the previous year’s best performances in film and television. What separates it from the Oscars is that is specifically puts all of its focus on actors and actresses alone.
Last night, however, the focus wasn’t just on actors. In fact, last night’s most memorable moments were the ones that took a step away from acting and towards reality: Ashton Kutcher and Julia Louis-Dreyfus speaking out against Trump’s bullshit immigration ban, Mahershala Ali sharing a personal message of hope, and the cast of “Hidden Figures” not only winning the night’s most prestigious award, but also representing and paying tribute to women of color.
A lot of people might say it’s useless to “just make statements,” but I disagree. Actors are role models, and celebrities are in a special position where people care what they think and people listen to them, whether or not they should. So if actors want to stand up and speak in protest of Trump’s immigration ban, I am all for it. Let’s get loud. The only thing that is guaranteed to not help and to not spread awareness, is not talking about it.
In fact, when it comes to actors and politics, Kerry Washington said it best:
“Actors are activists, no matter what, because we embody the worth and humanity of ALL people.”
Actors can express their opinions when it comes to politics. Anyone has the right to express their opinion when it comes to politics. When you’re scared to use your voice, that’s when we, the people, can’t come together and push for positive change. So, I don’t care what you do for a living; when it comes to what you believe in, use your voice.
Now, let’s start our review of the night’s wokest moments with Ashton’s opening statement, shall we?
“Good evening fellow SAG AFTRA members, and everyone at home, and everyone in airports that belong in MY America. YOU are a part of the fabric of who we are, and we love you, and we welcome you.”
Damn right, they belong here. Thank you, Ashton.
Later on in the night, Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the Best Female Actor in a comedy. She started off her acceptance speech with, of course, a little comedy (specifically a brief impression of Trump’s narcissism), but went on to address something a little more serious: Julia, herself, is the daughter of an immigrant, her father being a victim of religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France.
“I am an American patriot, and I love this country, and because I love this country, I am horrified by its blemishes. And this immigrant ban is a blemish and it is un-American.”
You said it, girl.
She followed this powerful statement with a quote published by the WGA. Listen here:
Mahershala Ali (yes, a Muslim!) won Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight, a film that portrays the immense (at times, unbearable) struggles and complexities faced by a young, Black child growing up in the rough neighborhoods of Miami and simultaneously grappling with his sexuality.
It is very necessary that stories such as this one are told, even if they make us sad, because for so many people, it’s not just a story or a movie – it’s the reality too many individuals face every single day.
Ali gave an incredibly moving acceptance speech last night. I couldn’t help but cry, but I don’t regret listening to his extremely important message: that when it comes to accepting those who are different, we can and must do better.
You can listen to Ali’s speech here:
Last, but certainly not least, who won the biggest SAG Award of the night?
The winner of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Major Motion Picture went to the cast of Hidden Figures!
Hidden figures (which is still in theaters if you haven’t seen it!) is a film about three powerful, Black women who worked with NASA during the sixties and quite literally changed the course of history: Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson (played by Tarahi P. Hensen, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, respectively). Check out the acceptance speech here:
More importantly, make sure you check out the movie itself – Hidden Figures, like the stories of so many women and POC, is a story that needs to be heard.
Overall, kudos to the SAG Awards for not following in the footsteps of #OscarsSoWhite and for celebrating the stories of diverse actors and characters. Especially with the way things have been lately in the realm of politics, I enjoyed seeing people who looked nothing like one another taking the stage and receiving support from their peers, and I hope you did too.