It seems everything is about politics these days. The 23rd annual Screen Actors’ Guild Awards—an evening that last year was all about Leonardo DiCaprio jokes—were no exception.
At the Sunday evening event, a number of actors spoke out about President Trump’s controversial “immigration ban,” an executive order that was issued Friday and that suspended the entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked U.S. entry for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries for at least 90 days.
Ashton Kutcher, the show’s first host, immediately set the tone, greeting the audience and making sure to include “everyone in airports that belong in [his] America.” The actor then added, “You are a part of the fabric of who we are, and we love you, and we welcome you.”
Kutcher’s statement was not the last, nor the boldest.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus first took a lighter approach, joking about the fact that she deserved her award for Outstanding Female Actor in a Comedy Series (for her role in Veep) “whether the Russians did or did not hack the voting” of the awards, and wildly overestimating the evening’s crowd (“a million or probably even a million and a half”). Her speech took a more serious turn, however, when she shared with the audience that she is the daughter of an immigrant.
“My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France,” she said. “I’m an American patriot and I love this country, and because I love this country I am horrified by its blemishes. This immigrant ban is a blemish and it is un-American.”
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Emma Stone, who won the award for Best Actress, didn’t talk politics during her acceptance speech, but did share her opinion 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.”
Denzel Washington echoed Stone’s sentiments that Americans need to become more civically engaged. “I think we as Americans better learn to unite,” he said. “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.” Washington took home the award for Best Actor for the film Fences.
Accepting the award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series on behalf of the Stranger Things cast, actor David Harbour didn’t specifically reference the ban, but his allusions to it were clear:
Kerry Washington responded to criticism of actors getting involved in politics during her opening message: “Actors are activists, no matter what, because we embody the worth and humanity of all people.” She also tweeted that she was “sick to [her] stomach” about the ban.
Sarah Paulson, who took home the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series for her work in The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, urged the SAG attendees and viewers donate to the American Civil Liberties Union, which fought for—and won—a stay on the immigration ban on Saturday. “I would like to make 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,” said Paulson.
Accepting the SAG’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Lily Tomlin said that celebrities should use their star power to help push for legislative change. “Any activist should be talking about how to mount some legislation against what they’re opposed to,” she said. “You’ve got to change the laws. Trump’s changing the laws now.”
The cast of Orange is the New Black, Lion star Dev Patel, Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali (who identifies as Muslim), and Big Bang Theory actor Simon Helberg are among those who also spoke out against the ban.