*With President Donald Trump in full-on a-hole mode as far as banning people from Muslim countries from entering the US via his executive order on Friday, it probably came as no surprise that a bunch of actors would have something to say about it in their speeches at Sunday nights SAG Awards.
Among the thespians and activists speaking out was Mahershala Ali who won Best Supporting Actor for his paternal role in “Moonlight.” He is also part of the “Hidden Figures” award-winning cast as well. Backstage, Ali – who is Muslim – explained what his impassioned speech meant to him.
“It’s hurtful to see what’s happening to immigrants, and so on and so forth. It’s a challenging time,” Ali said. “As artists, as actors, we have an opportunity to make certain choices that shine a light on situations that light needs to be shined on. It helps our conversation, helps raise awareness because with awareness you can bring about change. That’s what we can do, and that’s the optimistic approach that I would like to have.”
“I remind you that I’m African American, so this is not new to me. My grandfather marched, he was in the NAACP, my great grandfather and great grandmother were active in the civil rights movement, and when my great grandmother died, they announced that she was a communist, and she wasn’t,” Ali continued, providing personal context. “My great grandfather lost his job, and he had five kids to take care of. This is not new. These things have existed before. It’s just as painful as it’s ever been, so it’s sad. It pains me, and I do identify with that struggle, what Muslims are dealing with specifically.”
For “Hidden Figures,” Taraji P. Henson celebrated the women at NASA whose stories inspired the film.
Speaking for the “Hidden Figures” cast and the African American women of NASA that she, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae portrayed, here’s what Taraji P. Henson had to say:
“We have agency now as women. We can say what’s on our mind. Don’t focus on the problems. Focus on the solutions. What are we going to do to get past this?” Henson said. ” I think that’s why this film is so timely. The beautiful thing in 2017 is that the majority is on the right side of history. Fear not. Fear and faith cannot coexist. Pick your battles. I choose faith.”
The 2017 Best Actor award winner for “Fences,” which he also directed, Denzel Washington said that citizens and artists need to hold their representatives accountable.
“I think we as Americans better learn to unite. We need to put our elected officials’ feet to the fire and demand that they work together or they won’t get back into office. We’re getting further and further apart in this technological age,” Washington said. “Everybody can’t be right. I think this is an opportunity, actually, to look at ourselves and say, ‘Are we together, really, and are we holding our officials accountable to make sure they’re working together?’ This is what’s happening, and God only knows where it’s going.”
Actress Emma Stone who picked up another Best Actress award for her role in “La La Land” used a couple of F-bombs to make her point about speaking out against what Trump is doing.
“We have to speak up against injustice, and we have to kick some ass,” Emma Stone said emphatically, backstage. “We have to speak up. Staying silent only helps the oppressor, not the victim. Right now I hope that people seeing things that are being done that are unconstitutional and inhumane would say something. I would hope that people would fight for what’s right, and what’s just f–king human. What’s f*cking human.”