After months of women in Hollywood speaking up about being sexually harassed or assaulted, the Screen Actors Guild Awards continued to celebrate female voices.
The 24th annual awards show, in which actors recognize their peers in film and TV, was emceed by first-ever host Kristen Bell and featured an all-female roster of awards presenters. Bell has said that she sees the female-friendly lineup as “a nod to the changing climate.”
“They say it’s the actors’ party in the actors’ house, and since actors are responsible for it, they feel that some actors have felt unrecognized or marginalized and they wanted to bring those stories to light and give them a forefront,” Bell explained during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. “So, they said, ‘OK, women, you’re having a larger voice now. You’re saying a lot of things. Let’s give you the stage.'”
Bell also told Kimmel that she hopes to “bring joy, which I feel like we need a little bit of right now, and forward momentum” as host.
The SAG Awards is just the latest awards show to deal with the wave of sexual misconduct claims that have rocked Hollywood. Two weeks ago, at the Golden Globes, women and men wore all-black in solidarity with the victims of sexual harassment and assault, many also sporting Time’s Up pins, and host Seth Meyers tackled the issue head-on. The women who took the stage also offered empowering messages of equality.
The SAG Awards show kicked off with an all-female rendition of the show’s traditional “I Am an Actor” segment, with Tracee Ellis Ross speaking about how she uses her voice to stand up against injustice. Bell ended the roundup and then took the stage for her monologue.
During her opening remarks, Bell didn’t specifically reference the raft of sexual misconduct claims in Hollywood or the #MeToo or Time’s Up movements, but she did refer to the current “watershed moment” and encouraged “empathy and diligence” moving forward.
“Everyone’s story deserves to be told, especially now,” Bell said. “We are living in a watershed moment, and as we march forward with active momentum and open ears, let’s make sure that we are leading the charge with empathy and with diligence, because fear and anger never win the race.”
Later in the show, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris paid tribute to those who have come forward with sexual misconduct claims.
“I am incredibly inspired by the women and men across the country who have shared their truths with such courage and such candor. Truth is power, and women are stepping into their power,” Carteris said. “We are in the midst of a massive cultural shift, with brave voices saying ‘me, too’ and advocates who know time is up. We are making a difference. You are making a difference. It’s amazing. Change is coming, and we are the agents of that change — men and women are the agents of that change. We can and we must create an environment in which discrimination, harassment and abuse are no longer tolerated. Make no mistake, this is not a moment in time, this is a movement. And our strength comes in our unity.”
When Rosanna Arquette presented alongside Marisa Tomei, Tomei praised her colleague for speaking out and being “one of those silence breakers.”
Arquette, who revealed in a New Yorker exposé how Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her, referenced a number of women who’ve spoken out against Weinstein and Brett Ratner as well as Anthony Rapp, who spoke out against Kevin Spacey.
“I’m here supporting many women: Asia Argento, Annabella Sciorra, Ashley Judd, Daryl Hannah, Mira Sorvino. So many,” Arquette said. “Anthony Rapp, Olivia Munn. All of you, thank you.”
Earlier in the evening, on the red carpet, the all-black palette of the Golden Globes gave way to a brightly colored assortment of dresses and fewer stars sporting Time’s Up pins, highlighting the initiative of the same name designed to combat harassment and push for gender equality.
Still, Allison Williams, Timothee Chalamet, Kumail Nanjiani and Alison Brie spoke about Time’s Up, with Brie also expressing her thoughts about the sexual misconduct claims made against her brother-in-law James Franco.
The female focus of the SAG Awards comes after numerous female actors were among the women speaking out about sexual misconduct in Hollywood, calling out such once powerful figures as Weinstein, Ratner and fellow actors like Dustin Hoffman and Franco, the latter a nominee for best actor in a motion picture for his role in The Disaster Artist.
But while the all-women presenters seemed like a timely response to the #MeToo movement when it was announced in December, the plan had actually been in the works for more than a year, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris recently told The Hollywood Reporter.
Still, SAG Awards executive producer Kathy Connell didn’t deny that the decision was designed to celebrate women.
“Beginning with the Women’s March in January, it’s been the year of the woman,” Connell told The Hollywood Reporter. “This is a unifying salute to women who have been very brave and speaking up. How many times has a woman walked into a room of predominately men? We thought, maybe for one night, it’ll be more than 50-50 [onstage]. We don’t want to slight the men who have given great performances this year — knowing our membership, I’m sure our men will embrace the opportunity to honor women.”