From the moment the show began, one message was spoken louder than any other: and that was to support refugees and embrace the diversity that makes America strong. On the red carpet, The Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg carried a sign that said “Refugees Welcome” while his wife, Jocelyn Towne, had the message “Let them in” painted across her chest. Then, in the opening remarks, Ashton Kutcher welcomed not only the audience but “everyone in airports who belongs in my America.”
But it didn’t stop there. Veep’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who won Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, paid homage to her father and the scores of unwelcome refugees: “I am the daughter of an immigrant. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France and I am an American patriot… Because I love this country, I am horrified by its blemishes. The immigrant ban is a blemish and un-American.”
And Taylor Schilling, up on stage with her castmates to win Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, made a point to call out the diverse origins of some of her colleagues—Colombia! Dominican Republic! Nigeria! Ireland. “What unites us is stronger than the forces that seek to divide us,” she said.
Mahershala Ali won the Male Actor in Supporting Role award for his performance in Moonlight, and his speech brought tears to many people’s eyes (including his own). “When we get caught up in the minutiae and the details that make us all different. I think there’s two ways of seeing that,” he said. “There’s the opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique, and then there’s an opportunity to go to war about it and say that this person is different from me, I don’t like you, let’s battle.”
Sarah Paulson took to the stage to accept the Female Actor in Television Movie/Limited Series for her portrayal of Marcia Clark (who just so happened to be her date again for the show) in American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. “I want to thank Marcia Clark for existing,” Paulson laughed. “Your strength, and your brilliance, and your perseverance; you made me look very good.” The actor wrapped up her speech by urging the audience and those watching to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Founded in 1920, the ACLU is an organization that works to protect and defend the civil rights of every single person living in the United States.
Bryan Cranston won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series for his role as President Lyndon B. Johnson in All the Way. Given the the film’s political undertones, it was an easy segue to discussing Trump. “I’m often asked how would Lyndon Johnson think about Donald Trump,” said Cranston in his acceptance speech. “And I honestly feel that 36 would put his arm around 45 and earnestly wish him success. And he would also whisper in his ear something he said often, as a form of encouragement, and a cautionary tale, ‘Just don’t piss in the soup that all of us got to eat.’”
Taking home the award for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast” the cast of Stranger Things was led on stage by David Harbor, who plays police chief Jim Hopper in the Netflix series. “In light of all that is going on in the world today, it is difficult to celebrate the already-celebrated Stranger Things,” he began. “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,” Harbor said, shortly switching to character-mode. “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!”
Hidden Figures won the final award: Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture, and its victory speech was heartfelt. While cast members shed tears in the background, Taraji P. Henson said that “without [these women], we would not know how to reach the stars…. This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside, what happens when we come together as a human race. Love wins, every time.”
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