Those who felt like Meryl Streep's speech was out of place when she took the stage at the Golden Globes this year will certainly not be pleased to see that the current political climate continues to seep into the acceptance speeches of this award season's lucky actors — but who can blame them when there's so much to say?
The Screen Actors Guild Awards always sets the tone ahead of the #Oscars, and this year was no exception. While the prizes gave us a better idea of the strongest contenders in the Oscars race, the speeches were more timely than ever. From Mahershala Ali to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the actors on stage didn't shy away from addressing the issues close to their hearts.
#MahershalaAli delivered incredible performances this year, from his turn in Netflix's Luke Cage to his emotional role in #Moonlight. Picking up the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for the latter, he pointed out what the movie was all about: understanding each other's differences, and refusing persecution:
"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. And taking that opportunity to uplift him, and tell him that he mattered, and that he was OK. And accept him. And I hope that we do a better job of that."
Clearly shaken by the moment, he encouraged people of different faiths to not dwell on these differences:
"My mother's an ordained minister. I'm a Muslim. She didn't do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago. But I tell you now, we put things to the side. And I'm able to see her, she’s able to see me. We love each other, the love has grown, and that stuff is minutiae — it's not that important."
The most heated speech of the night was given by David Harbour, who you'll recognize as Chief Hopper on Netflix's hit #StrangerThings. While part of the audience was distracted by Winona Ryder's incredibly diverse array of facial expressions, he had the perfect answer to those who say acting isn't a real job.
"[This award is] a call to arms from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper. [...] And through our craft, cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing intimate truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that when they feel broken and afraid and tired, they are not alone."
He concluded by drawing from his character on the show:
"We will get past the lies, we will hunt monsters, and when we are lost amongst 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 the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized. And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy."
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The Cast Of 'Orange Is The New Black'
Speaking for the Orange Is The New Black cast — who won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series — main actress Taylor Schilling made a simple and powerful statement highlighting the diversity of the actors and actresses present on the show:
"We stand up here representing a diverse group of people, representing generations of families who have sought a better life here. We know that it's going to be up to us and all of you to keep telling stories that show what unites us is stronger than the forces that seek to divide us."
Louis-Dreyfus took home the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, so she put those comedy skills to good use and shortly channeled the President in her speech — before finishing on a more serious note, condemning Trump's ban of a number of people to enter the US based on their nationality:
"My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France. I'm an American patriot, and I love this country. Because I love this country, I am horrified by its blemishes. And this immigrant ban is a blemish and it's un-American."
The Cast Of 'Hidden Figures'
One of the big surprise in the winners of the night was #HiddenFigures, which won for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture when that award was strongly expected to go to Moonlight. But Taraji P. Henson, who spoke on behalf of the cast, shared a similar message to Ali's:
"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."
Sarah Paulson won in the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series category for her role in The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and while she didn't expand much on politics, she urged the audience to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union:
"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."
#AshtonKutcher kicked off the night by giving a shoutout to those who were left stranded in airports following Trump's ban of certain nationalities from the US:
"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."
On Twitter, he reminded his followers that his wife Mila Kunis was an immigrant herself — as are the overwhelming majority of the people living in America today. Clearly, this year's awards saw Hollywood get far more political than ever before, and the Oscars will no doubt follow the trend.
Need a recap of the movies nominated at the Oscars this year? Watch our compilation below, and click here for more original Movie Pilot video content.