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Jokes, Politics, and Good Times- the SAG Awards

Written by Sarah Richer

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The 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards were held on Sunday night and contained surprises, jokes, and plenty of political commentary. Right off the bat, Kerry Washington opened the ceremony by saying, “A lot of people are saying right now that actors shouldn’t express their opinions when it comes to politics, but the truth is, actors are activists no matter what because we embody the work and humanity of all people.” Many of her fellow actors echoed her thoughts throughout the night, specifically in reference to the recent executive order barring US entry to people from seven countries.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the first award of the night, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, for her portrayal of Selina Meyer on Veep. She used nearly her entire time on stage to mock President Trump and criticize the executive order, calling it a “blemish” and “un-American.” Other winners in the television comedy category were William H. Macy, who won Outstanding Male Actor Award for Shameless, and for Orange is the New Black Comedy Ensemble. The television drama winners were John Lithgow for his role in The Crown, Clare Foy for The Crown, and Stranger Things for ensemble. David Harbour, Stranger Things, gave a rousing speech that received a standing ovation from the audience. The audience was so enamored that parts of his speech were very difficult to hear due to the cheering and clapping.

Sarah Paulson won Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for her role in American Crime Story, and Bryan Cranston won the corresponding male actor award for his role in All the Way. Cranston unexpectedly beat two actors from powerhouse American Crime Story: Sterling K. Brown and Courtney B. Vance. As a result, The Crown was the only television series of the night that earned more than one award.

Fences fared the best in the film categories, earning two awards: Viola Davis for Supporting Female Actor and Denzel Washington for Leading Male Actor. This was Washington’s first SAG Award win out of six nominations. He beat St. Lawrence alumnus Viggo Mortensen for the award. Mahershala Ali won Supporting Actor for his role in Moonlight. In his speech, he stated, “What I’ve learned from working on Moonlight is we see what happens when you persecute people. They fold into themselves.” He later went on to say that his mother is an ordained minister, and he is a Muslim, but they are able to “see” each other, and that “the love has grown” between them.

Another winner in the film category was Emma Stone, winning Lead Female Actor for her role in La La Land (the only award for La La Land). Hidden Figures, secured the coveted award for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast, beating Mortensen’s film, Captain Fantastic. Taraji P. Henson delivered a powerful speech, stating that the film is about “unity” and “what happens when we put our differences aside.” She also thanked the African-American women that were instrumental in the early space program and who are the focus of the film, in addition to John Glenn, who was sent to space because of the contribution of those women.

Other highlights of the ceremony were the In Memoriam montage and the recognition of Lily Tomlin, who received the Life Achievement Award. Dolly Parton introduced Tomlin and gave a humorous speech that also recognized Tomlin’s activism. Tomlin herself gave a humorous acceptance speech while also managing to add some political commentary. For the complete list of nominees and winners, visit

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Sarah Richer