As an actor, the ritual of settling in front of the telly and joining in the celebration of the many great screen performances of actresses and actors for just one indulgent night each year is a nostalgic one, to say the least. Tonight was the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG Awards), and while every other showbiz awards ceremony shares its focus with the multi-folds of the film and television making industry, the SAG awards are a night just for thespians.
What I always find arresting during these awards nights is that in spite of the apparent glitz and prosperity of the industry and the recipient’s seemed ‘success,’ actors repeatedly grace the microphone and accept their award with an unexpected humility. You realize that, for most, reaching such career heights hasn’t come without its epic struggles and hard work. For instance, in her acceptance speech for the outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role award for Boyhood, Patricia Arquette eloquently reminded us of “how hard it is to make a living as an actor.” This sentiment was followed up by Edward Norton who received the award for best supporting actor for his role in Birdman: “It’s fun to be an actor but as everyone in the business knows, it’s a true privilege to be a working actor.”
While it was thrilling watching some of my favorite actors receive awards for their memorable work (Frances McDormand, Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Viola Davis, Eddie Redmayne, and JK Simmons), Orange is the New Black’s breakthrough actress Uzo Aduba was perhaps tonight’s true star.
The abstract feeling of stepping off set last Friday night—having spent the day filming alongside Aduba in independent feature film Showing Roots in Louisiana—only to switch on the SAG Awards in my hotel room on Sunday night and see that same charismatic ‘force to be reckoned with’ receiving both the award for best actress in a comedy series and best ensemble cast in a comedy series, is, um, truly abstract, to say the least. Abuda’s heartfelt and gracious acceptance speech tonight (she even shed tears) were a reminder of how far Hollywood has come in its expanding acceptance of all women and ethnicities.
Aduba’s portrayal of Crazy Eyes in OINTB is certainly worthy of such esteemed recognition, and, as we’ve expressed repeatedly in SheRa Mag, Jenji Kohan’s innovative and gutsy female-fronted series is a treasured and crucial contribution to pop culture and society as we know it today.
Nights like these are a reminder to all actors across the globe: what you do is honorable and real and an art form. Keep going!!