Screen Actors Guild Awards recap: History made on emotional night

The Screen Actors Guild Awards honors the best achievements in film and television performances each year. (AP)

Afnan Hussain

Featuring crystal chandeliers, Valentino & Prada, Will Smith and Jung Ho-Yeon, this year’s SAG awards had no shortage of exceptional California glamor. Highlights of the night included Troy Kotsur becoming the first deaf actor to win an individual SAG Award, Ted Lasso scoring five nominations, and Will Smith’s impeccable and emotional speech.

Representing Kansas City, Jason Sudeikis began his career in improv comedy in the 1990s. Fast forward to 2020, he became the co-creator and the lead of the sports comedy series “Ted Lasso.” 

The series has earned him two Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes and, this past Sunday, his first SAG award for “Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series.” The series itself scored the award for “Best Comedy Series Ensemble.” 

This year’s show was a night of many firsts in SAG Awards history. “Squid Game” cast members Lee Jung-Jae and Jung Ho-Yeon became the first actors from a non-English language series to win a SAG Award. The series also took home the trophy for “Outstanding Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Television Series.” By the end of the night, “Squid Game” won three out of their four nominations. 

During the film segment of the show, Troy Kotsur made history as the first deaf actor to win an individual SAG award. Kotsur took home the “Best Supporting Actor” for his performance in“CODA,” beating out big-time nominees Ben Affleck, Jared Leto, Bradley Cooper and Kodi Smit-McPhee. “CODA” also made history as the first film with a predominantly deaf cast to receive the “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture” award. 

Ariana Debose also became the first Latina to win a film award from the Actor’s Guild, snagging the “Best Supporting Actress” award for her performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.” 

“It’s an honor to an Afro-Latina queer woman of color, and a dancer, and a singer, and an actor,” Debose said in an interview with NBC news reporters. “It’s indicative that I will not be the last. Whatever firsts are attached to my name, they’re important to me, but I’m focused on the fact that if I’m the first of anything it means I will not be the last.”

Aside from the thrill of seeing these actors get recognized for outstanding performances, some of the night’s speeches were just as enticing. Rushing from the bathroom, Michael Keaton went on stage to receive his “Best Male Actor in a TV movie or Limited Series” award for the series “Dopesick.”

At the beginning of his speech, he mentioned how blessed he is to be a part of a project that spawns “thought, conversation, actual change.” He said he was drawn to the series for personal reasons, as he lost his nephew Michael to fentanyl and heroin. With a tearful ending, Keaton dedicated his award to his nephew and his sister Pam. 

Will Smith received the “Best Male Actor in a Leading Role” for his exquisite portrayal of Richard Williams in “King Richard.” During his speech, he dug into the mind of Williams and confessed his deepest gratitude to the Williams family for allowing the cast the opportunity to convey their story.

As the waterworks started to roll in, he pushed through to address how incredibly proud he was to introduce the film’s leads, Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, into the acting industry in their roles as Venus and Serena Williams. Some critics believe this award is the stepping stone to Smith receiving his first-ever Oscar at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 27th. 

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