Misfits & Unsung Heroes Ruled The SAG Awards & We Could All Take Notes

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images.
Democracy is alive and well — in Hollywood, at least.

Stars came out for the 2016 SAG Awards last night, where actors receive honors voted on by their peers. (Accepting the first award of the night for her role on Veep, Julia Louis-Dreyfus quipped about snagging the popular vote, "Whether the Russians did or did not hack the SAG Awards...this award is legitimate," she said. "I'm the winner! The winner is me. Landslide!") Joking aside, in addition to the powerful political statements from almost every winner who took the stage, the evening's top-honored screen gems deliver inspiring messages in their own right.

Takeaways we glean from our favorite movies and TV series are arguably more profound than those handed to us from stars on the awards stage. Stories from the the big and small screens enter our subconscious and open our minds to the experiences of others, all as we kick back, relax, and let them wash over and entertain us. The big winners at last night's ceremony — Orange Is the New Black (Outstanding Ensemble, Comedy Series), Stranger Things (Ensemble, Drama Series), and Hidden Figures (Ensemble, Motion Picture)are certainly crowd-pleasers. But they also pack some powerful inspiration for the times ahead.

If you haven't had a change to binge-watch the Netflix series or take in the box-office hit also nominated for an Oscar next month, now is as good a time as ever. The world seems a lot like the Upside Down at the moment, and many people, celebs included, are eager to do whatever they can to make their feelings known and voices heard. Taking a breather to soak up some entertainment may feel like an indulgence, but I'd argue that last night's SAG award-winners pack just the sort of fuel we need to keep keeping on.
Photo: Curtis Baker/Netflix.
Stay weird, be brave, and show the scary monsters you're never one to give up — you'd far rather fight like hell.
Winona Ryder has already given us a comeback story for the ages, and last night she gave us yet more proof that she is the weird girl in all of us. But before she gave us all the reaction GIFs we'll ever need in 2017, the actress delivered us Joyce Byers, a woman who never once considers throwing in the towel even when the whole town thinks she's gone bananas. Many of us have also picked up markers and paint in recent days, scrawling out messages we hope will find their way to those who need to hear them.

For even more proof that courage pays off, and some very welcome feels, we have only to look at the adorable kids who stole our hearts and every red carpet this awards season: Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Finn Wolfhard, and Noah Schnapp. Their characters on Netflix's breakout series aren't afraid to be themselves, welcome an outsider into their circle of protection, or face a literal monster head-on.

As David Harbour put it last night: "Now, as we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 midwesterners will repel bullies, we will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no home. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters. And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and the casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Jim Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the meek and the disenfranchised. And we will do it all with soul, with heat, and with joy."

How's that for a rallying cry?
Advertisement
Photo: JoJo Whilden/Netflix.
Set differences aside to fight for what you think is right, even when your hands feel tied (or cuffed, even).
Season 4 of Orange Is the New Black was not afraid to tackle some serious issues head on. Racial divisions among the inmates at Litchfield escalate to greater heights than ever before, but when they lose one of their own to a young C.O.'s chokehold, the women unite in an uprising against their captors, against all odds. We'll see how it all pans out when OITNB returns this year, to document just three days over the course of the season.

The series has delivered a welcome influx of strong women characters on screen since it first premiered in 2013. At last night's ceremony, star Taylor Schilling emphasized the power of the series' vivid representations of diverse experiences. "We stand up here representing a diverse group of people, representing generations of families that have sought better life here — Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ireland," she said accepting the prize on the cast's behalf. "And we know that it's going to be up to us, and all of you probably too...to show that what unites is stronger than the forces trying to divide us."
Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
Push past the boundaries of what small-minded people may expect of you; break ceilings, take names.
The success of Hidden Figures — both at the box office, and on the awards circuit — is cause for all hearts to grow at least three sizes, one each for Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, and Octavia Spencer. The real-life story of Katherine G. Johnson (Henson), Mary Jackson (Monáe), and Dorothy Vaughn (Spencer) is a testament to the power of intellect, perseverance, and straight-up moxie. Women and people of color, and their contributions to some of society's greatest achievements, have so often been overlooked by history. In this heartfelt, funny, and "yaasss"-inducing film, three women's determination to break through barriers and reach their full potential gives us all something to aspire to.

At the ceremony last night, Henson laid down some beautiful words about what making the film meant to her and the rest of the stellar cast. Referring to the women on which it's based, she said, "Without them we would not know how to reach the stars... These women did not complain about the problems their circumstances. They focused on solutions...these brave women helped put men into space." Henson added, the award held high, "They are hidden figures no more!"

Accepting the final award of the evening, Henson had the last word: "This story is of unity. This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside and we come together as a human race. We win. Love wins every time."

Read These Stories Next:
The Problem With #OscarsSoBlack
This Clip Of Debbie Reynolds & Carrie Fisher At The 2015 SAGs Is Heartbreaking
The Cutest Couples From The SAG Awards Red Carpet
Advertisement