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‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Moonlight’ stars gave rousing political speeches at the SAG Awards

Monday 30 January 2017

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Words Spindle

In light of the recent political happenings under new US president Donald Trump, it’s no surprise that acceptance speeches at last night’s Screen Actor’s Guild Awards got political. Nearly every winner had something political to say against Trump, with Mahershala Ali and David Harbour giving especially stirring speeches, taking the opportunity to speak out against the current political climate and Trump’s recent decision to ban people from seven Muslim nations from entering the country.

Ali, who won Best Supporting Actor for his role in ‘Moonlight,’ made a heartfelt speech, “What I’ve learned from working on ‘Moonlight’ is, we see what happens when you persecute people,” he said. He went on to express his solidarity with those affected by the ban, “You know, when we kind of get caught up in the minutiae, the details that make us all different, I think there’s two ways of seeing that,” he said, “There’s an opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique.” He continued, “And then there’s an opportunity to go to war about it, and to say that that person is different than me, and I don’t like you, so let’s battle.”

He also spoke about the religious differences he experienced with his mother after he converted to Islam seventeen years ago, “My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do back flips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago,” he began, “But I tell you now, we put things to the side, and I’m able to see her, she’s able to see me — we love each other, the love has grown, and that stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.” His speech celebrated differences, diversity, and acceptance for all.

Harbour, who plays Chief Jim Hopper in the Netflix science fiction series ‘Stranger Things,’ took to the stage with the rest of the cast to receive the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. He spoke passionately and emotionally, “We will repel bullies,” he declared, “We will shelter freaks and outcasts – those who have no home.” He called for his fellow actors to work 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.”

He continued, “We are united, in that we are all human beings and we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting, and mysterious ride that is being alive.” His speech gained momentum as he unleashed each word with incredible zest: “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 weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalised.” He was met with rapturous applause and standing ovation from everyone in the room, with co-star Winona Ryder barely able to contain her emotions, with every feeling seeming to pass over her face as she stood at his side.