11 Political Moments From The SAG Awards You Should Pay Attention To

by Erika W. Smith

With Trump’s Muslim ban and the resulting protests taking place this weekend, you’d be completely forgiven for forgetting about the SAG Awards. But many celebrities who attended turned the occasion into a platform for activism, using their acceptance speeches to advocate for the rights of immigrants and Muslims and, yes, telling us all to go punch some fucking Nazis. Here are the political moments from the SAG Awards that you should pay attention to:

1. Ashton Kutcher’s opening speech

Host Ashton Kutcher kicked off the night with these words, met by applause: “Hello to everyone watching at home and in airports that belong in my America. You are part of the fabric of who we are, and we love you and we welcome you.” Kutcher also spoke about the ban on Twitter: “My wife [Mila Kunis] came to this country on a refugee visa in the middle of the Cold War! My blood is boiling right now! We have never been a nation built on fear. Compassion that is the root ethic of America. Our differences are fundamental 2R sustainability.”

2. Mahershala Ali’s speech about his Muslim faith and persecution

Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in Moonlight, and used the occasion to speak about his faith as a Muslim and call for an end to persecution:

“I think what I’ve learned from working on Moonlight is we see what happens when you persecute people. They fold into themselves and what I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan was playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community. Taking the opportunity to uplift him and to tell him he mattered, he was okay and accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that.

“We kind of get caught up in the minutia and the details that make us all different, I think there’s two ways of seeing that. There’s an opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique, and then there’s the opportunity to go to war about it. And to say that that person is different than me and I don’t like you so let’s battle.
My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 yrs ago. But I tell you now, you put things to the side and I’m able to see her and she’s able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown. And that stuff is minutia. It’s not that important.”

3. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s speech about her immigrant roots

Julia Louis-Dreyfus won Best Actress In A TV Comedy for Veep and used her speech to speak out about her own immigrant roots:

“I want you all to know that I am the daughter of an immigrant. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France, and I’m 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.”

4. Alia Shawkat speaks Arabic

Alia Shawkat — whose father is an immigrant from Iraq and whose family is Muslim — greeted the audience in Arabic and then spoke out against the Muslim ban before presenting an award: “Assalamu alaikum. Like many of our nominees here tonight, we represent people who have come from other cultures, and that’s a real fact.”

5. Lily Tomlin talks about the Doomsday Clock

After being delightfully presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin spoke about the Doomsday Clock being moved up thirty seconds as a response to Trump’s presidency: “The doomsday clock has been moved to two minutes before midnight! And this award came just in the nick of time.” Backstage she spoke out more strongly, saying: “the Nazis, they changed the laws if they didn’t agree with them. They just changed them and they could do whatever they wanted. We need to be vigilant and we need to agree when he may have a good idea or she may have a good idea, and we should be resistant when they don’t. Oh my gosh, I feel like I’m talking to someplace in Germany many decades ago.”

6. Sarah Paulson urges viewers to donate to the ACLU

In her acceptance speech for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie for The People Vs OJ, Sarah Paulson urged the audience to donate to the ACLU: “I would like to make a plea for everyone if they can: Any money they have to spare, please donate to the ACLU, to protect the rights and liberties of people across this country. It’s a vital, vital organization that relies entirely on our support. So please if you can, thank you very much.”

7. Denzel Washington wins over Casey Affleck

Thankfully, one awards show decided not to award Casey Affleck! Washington won Best Actor for his role in Fences, over favorite Casey Affleck, who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women. Additionally, backstage Washington said, “I think we as Americans had better learn to unite. We have to put our elected officials’ feet to the fire. God only knows where it’s going.”

8. Viola Davis advocated for more roles for people of color

In her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Fences, Viola Davis urged for more opportunities for people of color. She said:

“What August [Wilson, who wrote the play on which the film is based] did so beautifully is he honored the average man, who happened to be a man of color. And sometimes we don’t have to shake the world and move the world and create anything that is going to be in the history book. The fact that we breathed and lived a life and was a god to our children, just that, means that we have a story and it deserves to be told. We deserve to be in the canon of any —‚ in the center of any narrative that’s written out there. And that’s what August did. He elevated my father, my mother, my uncles who had eighth and fifth-grade educations, and he just encapsulated them in history.”

9. Orange Is The New Black celebrated diversity

In her acceptance speech for Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Comedy Series, Taylor Schilling celebrated the diversity of the cast and the country: “We stand up here representing a diverse group of people, representing generations of families that have sought better life here — Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ireland. And we know that it’s going to be up to us, and all of you probably too, to keep telling stories that show that what unites is stronger than the forces that seek to divide us.”

10. Hidden Figures wins and Taraji P. Henson calls for unity

While accepting the Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture award for Hidden Figures, Taraji P. Henson spoke about the real women she, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer played

“The shoulders of the women that we stand on are three American heroes. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson — without them we would not know how to reach the stars.” As Henson spoke, her co-stars Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer went back and forth between nodding their heads in affirmation and weeping with their eyes closed, before Henson reached the emotional climax of her remarks, and echoed the theme of inclusion and tolerance that prevailed throughout the night. “This story is of unity,” said Henson. “This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside and we come together as a human race. We win. Love wins. Every time.”

11. Stranger Things told us all to go punch some Nazis in the face

Stranger Things won the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series award, and David Harbour, who plays police chief Jim Hopper on the series, told us all to go punch some Nazis in the face — seriously. Plus, Winona Ryder had a pretty amazing facial journey during the speech. Harbour said:

“We are united, in that we are all human beings, and we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting, and mysterious ride that is being alive. Now, as we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts — those who have no hope. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters. And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Jim Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the meek and the disenfranchised and the marginalized. And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy. We thank you for this responsibility.”

Top photo: SAG screenshots

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