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"Hidden Figures," "Stranger Things" and "Orange Is the New Black" took home the top ensemble prizes at the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards. While the event was a celebration of actors and their craft, the current political climate was not far from the minds of many stars on the red carpet and on the stage. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mahershala Ali, Bryan Cranston, David Harbour and others used their time at the podium to address recent events and the policies of President Donald Trump.

SAG Awards

SAG Awards: A night when politics blended into the prizes

Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Kirsten Dunst of "Hidden Figures." (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Kirsten Dunst of "Hidden Figures." (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Anyone tuning in to the SAG Awards ceremony on Sunday thinking they might be escaping news headlines for a couple of hours was quickly disabused of that notion as winner after winner used their platform to speak out against President Trump’s immigration ban.

“This immigrant ban is a blemish and is un-American,” said Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the evening’s first award recipient, getting the ball rolling. 

Later, life achievement honoree Lily Tomlin noted: “The doomsday clock has been moved up to two and a half minutes to midnight — and this award came just in the nick of time.”

Politics blended into the awards themselves, including the night’s biggest winner, “Hidden Figures,” a historical drama about the largely unknown black women who helped NASA launch the space program. The film’s predominately black cast won for ensemble, and its message of women of color overcoming prejudice was a perfect fit with the mood at the Shrine Auditorium, where the SAG Awards were presented. 

PoliticsSAG Awards

SAG Awards attendees discuss the current political climate on the red carpet

Celebrities on the SAG Awards red carpet weigh in on the current political scene.

SAG Awards

'Alternative facts' about Hollywood we learned on the SAG Awards red carpet

We ask celebrities at the SAG Awards to come up with the best "alternative fact" they've heard about Hollywood.

PoliticsSAG Awards

Mahershala Ali calls for respect and understanding between those who are different

 (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Mahershala Ali took home two prizes at the Screen Actors Guild Awards: for his supporting role in "Moonlight" as well as part of the cast of "Hidden Figures." Ali gave an emotional acceptance speech after winning for male actor in a supporting role, and the political themes carried over backstage.

On being Muslim and black in American during this political moment: 

This is not new to me. These things have existed before. It’s just as painful as it’s always been. It’s sad. It pains me, and I do identify with [the] struggle [that] Muslims are dealing with specifically.

It’s hurtful to see what’s happening to immigrants. It’s a challenging time. I think the positive thing is that as artists, as actors, we have an opportunity to make certain choices that shine light on situations that light needs to be shined on … so we can bring attention to situations that need some work and help start conversations and raise awareness because with awareness you can bring about change.

That’s the optimistic approach I would like to have.

On talking politics on stage at an awards show and the pressure of not alienating an audience who may disagree:

That’s when we have to have respect, when we don't agree each other. You have to respect that that person's different than you and just trust that I’ll understand one day.

It’s about how we approach each other. It’s just about giving people the respect you would appreciate having and seeing the other person as just as human as you. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to treat people with the respect that I would like for myself. I’m not trying to fix nobody. I’m trying to work on my own stuff. 

SAG Awards

Exclusive backstage photos: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Emma Stone, the 'Hidden Figures' cast and more at the SAG Awards

Ashton Kutcher and Julia Louis-Dreyfus backstage at the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Ashton Kutcher and Julia Louis-Dreyfus backstage at the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Taraji P. Henson, left, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae backstage at the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Taraji P. Henson, left, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae backstage at the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Emma Stone (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Emma Stone (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
SAG Award winner Sarah Paulson, right, embraces Michelle Dockery backstage. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
SAG Award winner Sarah Paulson, right, embraces Michelle Dockery backstage. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
SAG Awards

Netflix dominates SAG Awards' TV categories with 'The Crown,' 'Stranger Things' and 'OITNB'

"Stranger Things" actor Finn Wolfhard leaps for joy as his show wins the ensemble award. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
"Stranger Things" actor Finn Wolfhard leaps for joy as his show wins the ensemble award. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The past was very much present Sunday night at the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards as two new Netflix period pieces and one veteran show took home the top honors in the television categories and carried the streaming service to the top of the small screen heap with four awards. 

“The Crown,” the grand tale of  Queen Elizabeth II, copped two trophies; the ’80-set “Stranger Things” took home the award for performance by an ensemble in a drama series; and the cast of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black" took to the stage to accept the honor for performance by an ensemble in a comedy series, the show’s third consecutive win in that category. 

The co-winners of the ensemble in a comedy series for "Orange Is the New Black." (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
The co-winners of the ensemble in a comedy series for "Orange Is the New Black." (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
SAG Awards

Taraji P. Henson says there's a reason 'Hidden Figures' was made now

Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer and the "Hidden Figures" cast and crew. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer and the "Hidden Figures" cast and crew. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The cast of "Hidden Figures" took home the top film prize at the Screen Actors Guild Award. Backstage, actors Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer shared their thoughts on why they believed the film was resonating with audiences. 

There’s a reason why [Hidden Figures] was made now and not three years ago, not five years ago, not 10 years ago. The universe needed it now.

Taraji P. Henson

This film reminds us that we’ve been through harder times. We got through it back then, and we can get through it now. In the words of Kevin Costner’s [character], ‘We all pee the same color.’

Janelle Monae

Sometimes we need to provide a little escapism from the realities we’re currently existing in. This movie, I was feeling a certain way as an actress in the film representing people that are marginally represented. The fact that the movie is resonating at the box office is saying people are hearing the message.

Octavia Spencer
SAG Awards

David Harbour's speech seemed to surprise even his 'Stranger Things' costars

"Stranger Things' " David Harbour gives a speech as cast and crew look on. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
"Stranger Things' " David Harbour gives a speech as cast and crew look on. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

David Harbour, who plays Jim Hopper in "Stranger Things," delivered a fiery speech after the show took the drama ensemble prize that brought some of the night's loudest applause from the audience. It seemed to even take some of his costars by surprise, including an especially expressive Winona Ryder.

Did it? I didn't see her reaction. We were at dinner the other night. Cara [Buono] and Charles [Heaton]. I was like, ‘Guys, I want to say this crazy speech. Can I run it by you? Charlie was like, no, no, you’ll jinx us.” He says he ended up sharing it but that “it changed last night based on the protest. But they did help me and they reassured me that it was an OK thing to say.

SAG Awards

Backstage and unguarded with the 'Hidden Figures' cast after winning their SAG Awards

"Hidden Figures" writer-director Theodore Melfi and actors Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe celebrate after winning for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
"Hidden Figures" writer-director Theodore Melfi and actors Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe celebrate after winning for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

"Hold it, baby!" Taraji P. Henson urged Janelle Monáe, passing her their cast's just-won Screen Actors Guild Award as if to prove it was real.

It seemed that no one in the cast of "Hidden Figures" expected to win the biggest film prize of the night on Sunday. Leading up to the telecast, nearly all of the award season pundits had the best film ensemble race between "Moonlight" and "Manchester By the Sea." So as the "Hidden Figures" cast bounded from the stage, their disbelief was palpable. Octavia Spencer, dabbing her eyes with a tissue, kept screaming suddenly as she made her way toward a room filled with photographers. Every few moments, she would stare down in awe at the envelope Nicole Kidman had delivered to the cast, announcing their win.

"I'm not letting this out of my sight," she said aloud.

As the cast circulated through the tiny hallways of the Shrine Auditorium, the group swelled when Glen Powell -- who plays late astronaut John Glenn in the film -- invited his family to tag along with the melee. His mother introduced herself to Henson, who took a moment to tell her what a polite son she'd raised. "I'm a mom," Henson said, "so I know it's all because of you."

Anticipating the impending onslaught of selfie-seekers, Henson and Spencer stopped at a L'Oreal touchup station, dabbing off their sweat.

"We are going to take pictures, so pat down, ladies! Pat down!" Spencer advised.

Before they could pose for photos, however, the cast had to pick up their individual trophies. (They'd only been given one onstage by Kidman.) The bronze statues -- which are 16 inches tall and weigh 12 pounds -- were all accounted for, save for Kevin Costner's. The actor wasn't in attendance, so his award remained on a table with an unsigned contract meant to acknowledge receipt of the prize.

With the bronze men finally in hand -- "This is heavy!" Henson noted -- the group made its way to the press room to field questions. Saniyya Sidney, the 10-year-old actress who plays one of Henson's daughters in the film, trailed behind, crying quiet tears of joy.

"Is she still crying?" her mother asked.

"She is an actress, guys," her father said with a smile.

Sidney pulled herself together before standing on the podium in front of reporters, where the cast fielded questions about the relevance of "Hidden Figures" -- which Henson noted just hit $100 million at the box office.

"The movie reminds us that we've been through harder times," suggested Monáe. "And as Kevin Costner says in the film, we all pee the same color. We're not that damn different."

"Well, unless you eat a lot of beets," noted Spencer.

A publicist signaled it was time for the group to make its way to another stop, and Henson sighed.

"Can we go to the bar now?" she asked Kirsten Dunst, who replied, "I think we can go get a drink!"

SAG Awards

Emma Stone on whether actors should use award shows as a political platform

Emma Stone, winner of female actor in a leading role for "La La Land." (Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)
Emma Stone, winner of female actor in a leading role for "La La Land." (Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)

I think that right now is an unprecedented time. I would hope that everyone that’s seeing things being done that are absolutely unconstitutional and inhumane would say something in any venue -- whether at school or an award show or their office or online. I would hope that people would fight for what’s right and what’s ... human. It’s amazing to see people speaking up and taking action.

Emma Stone
SAG Awards

Viola Davis reminds Hollywood 'I have a story that needs to be told'

 (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Following her acceptance of the Screen Actors Guild award for performance by a female actor in a supporting role, "Fences" actress Viola Davis was asked whether she thought the #OscarsSoWhite controversy played a role in why so many black actors were nominated this year.

Her answer: No.

I think that every nominee, from Naomie Harris to Octavia Spencer to 'Hidden Figures' to 'Fences' to 'Moonlight' to Mahershala Ali, are there because they deserve to be there. They put in the work.

Viola Davis, SAG award winner for her role in "Fences"

"Sometimes, I feel like I'm forced to remind people that I look different," said Davis. "I saw an absence of people that look like me.

"It becomes a knee-jerk response to write narratives and present a homogenized story. I want to tell people that we, in the past, have not been invited to the party," Davis continued. "It is intentional.

"But when I do say it, I'm not saying it to put myself on the outside. It's not to be ultra-political. It's just to raise my hand and say, 'Are you aware that I'm here? And that I'm sexual and I have my own beauty and I have a story that needs to be told.'"

SAG Awards

In the winners room with Viola Davis, Emma Stone, the 'Stranger Things' kids and more

Viola Davis, winner for female actor in a supporting role for "Fences." (Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)
Viola Davis, winner for female actor in a supporting role for "Fences." (Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)
Finn Wolfhard, left, Gaten Matarazzo, Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp and Caleb McLaughlin, winners of ensemble in a drama series for "Stranger Things." (Paul Buck / European Pressphoto Agency)
Finn Wolfhard, left, Gaten Matarazzo, Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp and Caleb McLaughlin, winners of ensemble in a drama series for "Stranger Things." (Paul Buck / European Pressphoto Agency)
"The Crown's" John Lithgow, winner for male actor in a drama series, with costar Claire Foy, winner for female actor in a drama series. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)
"The Crown's" John Lithgow, winner for male actor in a drama series, with costar Claire Foy, winner for female actor in a drama series. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)
Elizabeth Rodriguez, left, Selenis Leyva, Diane Guerrero and Jackie Cruz, co-winners of ensemble in a comedy series for "Orange Is the New Black." (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)
Elizabeth Rodriguez, left, Selenis Leyva, Diane Guerrero and Jackie Cruz, co-winners of ensemble in a comedy series for "Orange Is the New Black." (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)
PoliticsSAG Awards

Sarah Paulson commends the ACLU after her SAG Award win

 (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

I just wanted to have an opportunity to mention the inclusivity that I think is required right now and the ACLU to me represents that across the board. It’s an odd thing because it’s been a very celebratory time in my life … and at the same time it’s dovetailing with a sort of interesting time. I feel the duality. It feels like a grave time. 

Sarah Paulson, after her SAG Award win for her performance in 'The People v. O.J. Simpson'
SAG Awards

Take a look at highlights from the Screen Actors Guild Awards

The 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards, held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, may have had a political tone, but the exuberance of presenters, winners and members of the audience was on display.

Lily Tomlin accepts the guild's life achievement award. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
Lily Tomlin accepts the guild's life achievement award. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
Taraji P. Henson receives a hug during the show. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Taraji P. Henson receives a hug during the show. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The "Orange Is the New Black" cast gathers onstage after winning for ensemble in a comedy series. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The "Orange Is the New Black" cast gathers onstage after winning for ensemble in a comedy series. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
PoliticsSAG Awards

Bryan Cranston on politicizing awards shows: 'We’re allowed to do that'

 (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

When accepting the Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance in "All the Way," Bryan Cranston told the audience that he suspects President Lyndon B. Johnson would "earnestly wish" Donald Trump success. The political theme continued in his remarks backstage.

Is it a challenge to be at an awards show considering all that's going on?  

There’s a lot of strife in the world and in our country, but  I think it's important to embrace the good things that we have as well. And the collective of people coming together and talking about the issues as you've seen tonight-- it's alive.

This is what artists do best: take the anguish, the anxiety and fear, and put it into work. Hopefully it creates a groundswell of understanding. I don't feel it's the wrong thing to celebrate—good work that has nothing to do with other things.

On critics who say actors shouldn't make these award shows political:

We’re human beings and citizens before we ever became actors. If something is important to you, if something appears before you in a way that feels like oppression, it’s up to the citizenry to speak out. Not everyone agrees.

But that’s part of democracy. We’re allowed to do that. Our country was founded on that. We shouldn't be afraid of it. We should embrace it so voices are all heard and people make up their own minds.

SAG Awards

See David Harbour's fiery acceptance speech for 'Stranger Things'

"Stranger Things" won the SAG Award for ensemble in a drama series, and David Harbour, who plays Chief Jim Hopper, delivered an impassioned speech about the importance of fighting for the disenfranchised.

Read his speech in full below: 

This is unreal. I’m supposed to start talking. I’m sorry. I’m sick.

On behalf of this fearless and talented cast, we would like to thank -- oh, it's so heavy -- Netflix, Shawn [Levy], Matt [Duffer], Ross [Duffer] and the amazing casting director Carmen Cuba.

I would just like to say that in light of all that’s going on in the world today, it’s difficult to celebrate the already celebrated “Stranger Things,” 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 from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper and through our art to battle against 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 that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that when they feel broken and afraid and tired, they are not alone.

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 and the continuing narrative of “Stranger Things,” we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no homes. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters. And when we are lost amidst the hypocrisy and the 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. We thank you.

SAG Awards

Life advice from Lily Tomlin's SAG speech: 'Don’t leave the house when you’re drunk'

 (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The 53rd SAG life achievement award recipient, Lily Tomlin, offered some "sage" life advice for young actors, beyond "wear sunscreen." 

  • Don’t leave the house when you’re drunk. 
  • And if you’re already out there, well, you must learn to tell when you’ve had too much to drink. 
  • Listen to your friends when they stop talking to you and start talking about you. Saying things like, "Did she have a purse?" 
  • Don’t be anxious about missing an opportunity. Behind every failure is an opportunity someone wishes they had missed. 
  • Mind what Thoreau said, "Beware of any enterprise which requires new clothing." Doesn’t that ring sort of true tonight, to a few of you? It does to me. 
  • Live your life so that when you are being honored for your achievements the people called upon to make laudatory remarks can feel reasonably honest about their comments. Otherwise, in these times, all their words of phrase might be perceived as alternative facts. Or worse yet, fake news. 
  • Thank those people on whose shoulders you stand.

After revealing the happy/sad duo face of the big award, Tomlin ended her speech by thanking life partner and writer Jane Wagner (among many others). 

PoliticsSAG Awards

Read (and watch) Julia Louis-Dreyfus' speech slamming the #MuslimBan

"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,” she said in her acceptance speech. “This immigrant ban is a blemish and it is un-American.

"So I say to you this: Our sister guild, the WGA, made a statement today that I would like to read because I am in complete agreeance with it.

“ 'Our guilds are unions of storytellers who always welcomed those from the nations of varying beliefs who wish to share their creativity with America. We are grateful for them. We stand with them. And we will fight for them.'

"Thank you very much."

Watch the speech below:

PoliticsSAG Awards

Watch Mahershala Ali's emotional SAG acceptance speech

Mahershala Ali won the SAG Award for male actor in a supporting role in "Moonlight."

Read his speech in full below:

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.

I’m going to thank Tarell Alvin McCraney for his courage. I’m going to thank Barry Jenkins just for your insight, your brilliance and your direction, and just the collaboration, that opportunity, I’ll always hold that close to me. I want to thank my fellow cast mates. Any one of those young men could be up here holding this, I’m telling you. It’s beautiful work. Plan B, A24, thank you. Peace and blessings be upon you.

PoliticsSAG Awards

The SAG Awards are off to a political start

"Veep" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepts the award for performance by a female actor in a comedy series. (Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP)
"Veep" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepts the award for performance by a female actor in a comedy series. (Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP)

If anyone thought the winners and presenters at Sunday night’s 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards would avoid addressing the protests happening at airports around the nation, they were wrong. 

The show, broadcast on TNT and TBS live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, was political from the opening moments, with a series of nominated actors in the audience talking about what it means to be an actor, which includes, said “Scandal’s” Kerry Washington, expressing political opinions.

Although the show normally eschews a formal host, Ashton Kutcher did welcome viewers to the broadcast and “everyone in airports that belong in my America. We love you and we welcome you.”

The night’s first winner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, addressed the issue head-on in her acceptance speech for performance by a female actor in a comedy series for her role on “Veep.” 

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