Julia Louis-Dreyfus was the first actor to speak out against Donald Trump’s ban on refugees from majority-Muslim countries. But she was not the last.
After winning her second Screen Actors Guild Award for her role on HBO’s Veep, Louis-Dreyfus took the podium Sunday night and began with a timely joke. “Whether the Russians did or did not hack the voting of tonight's SAG Awards, I look out on the million or probably even a million and a half people in this room and I say, this award is legitimate and I won,” she said, channeling the president. “I am the winner. The winner is me. Landslide.”
But then, Louis-Dreyfus turned more serious. “I want you all to know that I am the daughter of an immigrant,” she said. “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 and this immigrant ban is a blemish and it’s un-American.”
She went on to quote from a statement issued by the Writers Guild of America earlier in the day. “Our guilds are unions of storytellers who have always welcomed those from other nations and of varying beliefs who wish to share their creativity with America,” she read. “We are grateful for them. We stand with them. And we will fight for them.”
Later in the show, Orange Is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling, speaking on behalf of her cast, said, “We stand up here representing a diverse group of people, representing generations of families who have sought a better life here from places like Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ireland.” She added, “We know 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 are trying to divide us.”
Mahershala Ali, accepting the Best Supporting Actor award for Moonlight, talked about how his Christian minister mother felt when he converted to Islam 17 years ago. “We put things to the side and I was able to see her,” he said. “She is able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown, and that stuff is minutiae. It's not that important.”
The night ended with a triumphant speech from Taraji P. Henson, who was accepting the biggest award of the night for Hidden Figures. “This story is of unity,” she said of the film. “This story is about what happens when we put our difference aside and we come together as a human race. We win. Love wins. Every time.”