Celebrities call out Trump’s immigration ban in the most political SAG Awards ever
Following Donald Trump’s new immigration order, the whole world was watching to see how Hollywood would react, and it did not disappoint.
The focus of the SAG awards 2017, held at the Shrine Auditorium, LA, on Sunday, was Trump’s immigration ban, with Hollywood stars showing overwhelming support for those targeted, taking their speeches, red carpet appearances and any camera-time to protest the ban on Muslims and to champion love and unity.
The politics started on the red carpet with Kerry Washington proudly wearing a safety pin on the sleeve of her gown, explaining ‘I’ll be wearing one of these tonight. On my arm. To show solidarity. We will not stop fighting for our safety & the safety of our fellow citizens and human beings’.
Big Bang Theory and Florence Foster Jenkins actor, Simon Helberg, and his wife Jocelyn also took the SAG awards red carpet to protest the recent US travel ban, with Helberg holding a handmade sign saying ‘Refugees Welcome’ and his wife writing ‘Let Them In’ across her chest.
When the awards ceremony kicked off, it was clear that the political messages were going to continue, with Ashton Kutcher greeting the crowd in his welcome speech by condemning Trump’s immigration ban:
‘Good evening, fellow SAG-AFTRA members, and everyone at home, and everyone in airports that belong in my America,’ the actor said while opening the show. ‘You are a part of the fabric of who we are. And we love you and we welcome you.’
Politics continued to dominate the SAG awards as winner after winner took their acceptance speech as an opportunity to speak out for those who couldn’t.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was the first winner of the night, picking up the award for best actress in a comedy series for her work in Veep. ‘My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France,’ she announced to the crowd. ‘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.’
The Stranger Things cast, who won for best television drama followed suit, with David Harbour announcing ‘We will get past the lies, we will hunt monsters, and when we are lost amid the hypocrisy and casual violence, we will punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized.’
Mahershala Ali won the award for best supporting actor for his role in Moonlight where he played Jaun, a young gay black boy growing up in poverty in Miami, taking his time on stage to explain his own experiences, having converted to Islam 17 years before:
‘What I’ve learned from working on Moonlight is, we see what happens when you persecute people,’ he explained. ‘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 O.K. and accept him and, uh — I hope that we do a better job of that.’
‘You know, when we kind of get caught up in the minutiae, 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 an 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 back-flips 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.’
Virtually every winner used their moment on stage to take a stand against Trump, making Hollywood’s stance on immigration clear. From Sarah Paulson urging people to donate to the A.C.L.U to Lily Tomlin referencing the doomsday clock being brought forward and wondering aloud what sign she should make for the next march, with Viola Davis, Emma Stone and Kerry Washington following suit.
Bryan Cranston, however, took his moment on stage to give 45th President Donald Trump a piece of advice from 36th President Lyndon B. Johnson, who he won a SAG for playing in All the Way.
‘I honestly feel that 36 would put his arm around 45 and earnestly wish him success,’ the actor explained ‘And he would also whisper in his ear something he said often, as a form of encouragement and a cautionary tale. “Just don’t piss in the soup that all of us got to eat.”’
Taraji P. Henson, who accepted the Outstanding cast award for Hidden Figures with co-star Janelle Monae, ended the night as it started, by using her acceptance speech to speak out about unity: ‘When we put our differences aside and we come together as a human race. We win, love wins. Every time.’
The SAG 2017 award-winners may be completely different to those who came out on top at the 2017 Golden Globes, but one consistent theme that we can expect for the next few awards shows is a strong political message.
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Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.
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