The 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, held at the stylish Fairmont Century Plaza in Century City, Los Angeles, brought together a diverse array of celebrated talent Sunday night, offering performers in attendance and fans around the world a show that was both humorous and tender in which members of the acting profession honoured their peers for distinguished work over the past year. This is the first year that the event was streamed live and for free on Netflix’s YouTube channel.
Everything Everywhere All At Once swept their categories and offered some historic moments. Jamie Lee Curtis received her first SAG Award and a standing ovation for winning Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. Curtis, who noted her age and “nepo baby” lineage, delivered a moving tribute to her famous actor parents Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis and heartfelt shoutout to Everything lead actor, Michelle Yeoh, who also won her first SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role. Fellow Everything co-star Ke Huy Quan became the first Asian actor to win in the category of Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role and touchingly described how he’d given up acting because there were so few good roles available to him and how times have changed.
The entire cast of Everything were honoured with the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, with legendary James Hong reminiscing on the darker days of Asian representation in Hollywood compared to today, cheering, “Well, look at us now!”
Brendan Fraser also celebrated his first SAG Award, winning Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his powerful performance in The Whale.
On television, the ensemble awards went to White Lotus in the drama category, including Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama series to Jennifer Coolidge for the same show, and Abbott Elementary in the comedy category. View all the honorees at sagawards.org.
SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher celebrated the new partnership between SAG-AFTRA and Netflix for streaming future award shows, the Green Council, a joint effort between “stars and studios” that seeks to eliminate single-use plastics on set and enact other environmental firsts, and the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) for putting into place new guidelines that allow actors to define themselves how they see fit, and for free.
“Performers enrich our lives exponentially,” Drescher said, and asked members to support the Performing Arts Tax Parity Act and the American Music Fairness Act. She also reminded actors that US states with laws that appear to infringe on democratic values should be addressed by the entertainment industry. “If they want our business,” Drescher said, “let’s wield our financial influence to make governors act in the best interest of freedom, diversity, inclusion, and democracy.”
This year, the powerful ideas championed by SAG-AFTRA and all unions came into sharp focus as well when the SAG Life Achievement Award was presented to Sally Field, who rose to the status of Oscar winner with her titular performance in the pro-union Best Picture nominated drama, Norma Rae, in 1979.
SAG-AFTRA member and actor Andrew Garfield summarised Field’s lengthy career and called her a titan of the acting community. Field acknowledged her lifelong support for the protections and education SAG-AFTRA union has provided to its members and thanked the board and her peers for the honor. She also recalled day she received her SAG card.
“I remember so clearly that little paper card in my wallet, quietly thrilled to call myself an actor,” Field said. “Thank you, thank you, for this great honour,” she added at the end of her remarks, “from you, the people I most wanted respect from in my life — actors.”
Field’s previous honours include two Oscars, a SAG Award, a Cannes award, two Golden Globes, three Emmys, a National Board of Review award and two National Society of Film Critics’ awards. Field is a Kennedy Center honouree and received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.
The SAG Awards is the only televised awards ceremony to exclusively honour performers, offering SAG-AFTRA union members the opportunity to recognise their peers on the big and small screens and the event was streamed live on Netflix’s YouTube channel where the broadcast is also available for rewatching.