Stars Shine a Light on Immigration and Inclusion at SAG Awards

PHOTO: Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepts Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for "Veep" onstage during The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles.PlayKevin Winter/Getty Images
WATCH Stars Shine a Light on Immigration and Inclusion at SAG Awards

President Trump may not be in the audience at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, but he was certainly on Hollywood's mind.

Actors and actresses did not hold back from criticizing his recent executive order on immigration.

The awards, held Sunday night in Los Angeles, began in typical SAG Awards fashion as actors and actresses went around the room describing why they fell in love with the art form.

"Confirmation" actress Kerry Washington, who is nominated for best actress in a TV drama, used her moment to explain why Hollywood was taking a stand in this heated political climate.

"No matter what, actors are activists no matter what because we embody the humanity and worth of all people," she told the camera.

Ashton Kutcher took the stage to welcome the audience and expressed his disappointment in the order, which bars refugees and citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

"Good evening everyone...and everyone in airports that belong in my America," he said emphatically. "You are a part of the fabric of who are and we love you and we welcome you."

Trump's order also bars Syrian refugees from entry into the U.S. indefinitely. The president has said it's part of a vetting plan to prevent “radical Islamic terrorists” from reaching American soil.

Accepting the first award of the evening for best actress in a TV comedy series, "Veep" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus addressed the issue head-on.

"Whether the Russians did or did not hack the voting of tonight's SAG awards, I look out on the millions of...people in this room and I say this award is legitimate and I won. I'm the winner, the winner is me," she quipped.

Then in a serious tone, she said, "I am the daughter of an immigrant."

"My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France," she said, referring to her late father, Gérard Louis-Dreyfus. "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."

Other award winners followed suit by referencing either Trump or the immigration order, including William H. Macy, Taylor Schilling and Mahershala Ali, who proudly proclaimed: "I'm a Muslim."

Still, when the cast of "Stranger Things" took home the award for outstanding ensemble in a TV drama, star David Harbour made a moving speech that brought the crowd to its feet.

He said that winning the award 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 the exclusivity of a 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."

"Hidden Figures" star Taraji P. Henson, whose film took home the award for outstanding cast in a motion picture, received a similar reaction to her tearful acceptance speech.

"This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside and we come together as a human race," she said. "We win. Love wins every time."

Sarah Paulson also urged the crowd to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The award winner called the organization, who is legally challenging President Trump's executive order, "vital" to "protect the rights and liberties of people across this country."