Forget Dresses: 5 SAG Speeches Worth Watching

Last night’s SAG Awards were particularly emotional

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29: (L-R) Actors Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, and Taraji P. Henson, winners of the Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture award for 'Hidden Figures,' pose in the press room during the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Expo Hall on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

The SAG Awards are fun to watch in that they feel a little indulgent. Whereas most award shows feature celebrities intermingled with comparatively anonymous sound designers and special-effect experts, the SAGs are a parade of non-stop fame. Actor after recognizable actor climbing up on stage to talk about acting. They can be a little monotonous and circle-jerky that way, actually. But last night’s show had a more worthy tilt that was impossible to ignore: immigration.

The show aired on the heels of a whirlwind of political outrage around Trump’s anti-immigration executive order. The order, as you know by now, bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country for the next 90 days and suspends the admission of refugees for the next 120. Protests broke out across the country over the weekend by the millions of Americans who vehemently oppose this decision; many were in attendance last night.

“I want you all to know that I am the daughter of an immigrant,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus said while accepting her award for Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series for Veep. “My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France, and 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.”

Here are five other speech moments worth recalling from last night’s SAG Awards:

1. Viola Davis’s speech for “the average man.”

“What [playwright] August Wilson did so beautifully was he honored the average man,” she said. “Sometimes we don’t have to shake the world and move the world and create anything that is going to be in a history book — the fact that we breathed and lived a life and were gods to our children, just that means that we have a story and it deserves to be told.”

In addition to giving the above moving speech for winning Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Fences, Davis, whom I could watch until infinity, also became the first black female actor to win five SAG Awards.

2. Mahershala Ali’s speech on persecution.

“We see what happens when you persecute people,” Ali said in his speech for winning Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Moonlight. “They fold into themselves.” He goes on to tell a story about the incalculable value of putting differences aside for the sake of humanity. Beware if you’re a second-hand crier or a crier in general, this one’s tough.

3. Orange is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling’s speech for diversity.

When OITNB won for Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Comedy Series, the entire cast got up on stage. Before Schilling even spoke, the group of them — a mix of races and generations laughing and hugging like family — said so much about diversity. “We stand up here representing a diverse group of people,” she said, “representing generations of families that have sought a better life here.”

4. Stranger Things‘ David Harbour’s speech for humanity.

Harbour’s speech when Stranger Things won for Best Ensemble Cast in a Drama Series was a shot of espresso for anyone drifting off to sleep or clouded in a haze of Sunday Scaries. “But this award from you — who take your craft seriously and earnestly believe, like me, that great acting can change the world — is a call to arms to our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper and through our art to battle against the fear, self-centeredness and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture and through our craft to cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing intimate truths.”

Just watch the whole thing. And try your best to ignore Winona Ryder’s outrageous and distracting facial expressions to his right, which have already been meme’d to Mars and back and we’ll all be sick of by 4 P.M.

5. Hidden Figures’ Taraji P. Henson’s speech for unity.

Hidden Figures winning for Best Cast in a Motion Picture was a better finale that we could have asked for. “This story is a story of unity,” Henson said. “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. Thank you so much for appreciating the work we’ve done. Thank you so much for appreciation the work of these women. They are ‘hidden figures’ no more!”

If you’re now crying and want to keep going, maybe head to SAG’s twitter and watch the other speeches. There are plenty of good ones (Sarah Paulson, Lily Tomlin and Denzel Washington, to name a few).

Photo by Jeff Kravitz for FilmMagic via Getty Images.

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  • thanksss for this!!!

  • Shevaun

    holy SHIT david harbour, yesssssss let’s FUCK SHIT UP.

  • Samantha Lee

    I’m an actor, a member of SAG-AFTRA, and a voter. I wasn’t able to catch the live showing of the awards, but I caught up on all of the speeches afterwards, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of such a group of people. Pumped to hear everyone SPEAKING UP and using their platform for good. <3