January 30, 2017
by Carla Hay
The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards took place on January 29, 2017, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
SAG Award win:
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Here is what these SAG Award winners said backstage in the SAG Awards press room.
What is the role of the artist when it comes to helping society navigate change?
Taraji P. Henson: I think the major role of an artist is to use the art that God gave you to touch and change lives because he put us here. We all look different for reason because we’re here to get along and we have to figure it out so we better damn well figure it out because no one group is better than the other. We’re all humans here to get along and make this big world go around.
Our talents may be in the arts; there may be another talent in journalism. You have a voice. There are doctors that have a voice and have power, and that’s what we’re here to do. So I think that’s what this film represents, and there’s a reason why it was made now and not two years ago, not five years ago, not 10 years ago—because the universe needed it now.
Octavia Spencer: I would footnote that and only to say sometimes we need to provide a little escapism from the realities that we are currently existing in. And this movie, I was feeling a certain kind of way, and I realized that as an actress in this film representing people who were largely under represented that we could make a difference in a way. And I think the fact that we are that the movie is resonating at the box office is saying that people are hearing the message, and they’re feeling the message
Janelle Monáe: I copy and paste everything that the incredible Taraji and Octavia said. And I’m so honored and I feel so thankful to be a part of this cast. I think the colors of us, the nuances of us that all make us unique represent a shared humanity.
And I think this film reminds us that we’ve been through harder times, we’ve been through more difficult times and we got through it back then during the segregation era, and we can get through it now. We just have to remember, in the great words of Kevin Costner, “We all pee the same color.” We really do. We’re not that damn different.
Spencer: Well, if you eat a lot of beets …
Monáe: Right and I think that’s the great thing about America. We get to come here and be our authentically unique selves, and I think that if we continue to embrace the things that make us unique even if it makes others uncomfortable, we will continue to represent those who are oftentimes un-celebrated. And these women are finally hidden no more. So I dedicate my award to Ms. Mary Jackson, the first African-American female engineer at NASA.
Jim Parsons, you’ve got four Emmys and you’ve got a Golden Globe. This is your first-ever SAG Award. What does that mean to you?
Jim Parsons: Oh, this was really, really exciting. I teared up as soon as this happened. I think people can tell when they watch the movie this was an exceptional experience to be a part of in making this, and it was exceptional be on set with everybody. It’s been even exceptional doing press with everybody. Everyone came for the right reasons, and not that you don’t on most projects, but on something about this project in particular, the focus and dedication to telling this story the best and most honest way it could be told was a reverberating through everybody and it feels that same way when we’re together tonight months and months and months after we finished it. This was just exceptionally exciting. I’ll say that.
Octavia, is your Oscar a hidden figure in your house or is it out for everyone to see it?
Spencer: Oscar and the Hasty Pudding and all the wonderful awards that I’ve been given are all out for me to see. I don’t have a lot of people at my house and very seldom home. But I think what we’re going to do is we’re going have a pot luck. Everybody’s going to bring their Oscars, I mean their SAGS, and we’re just going to we’re go celebrate tonight. This is the best award to get the ensemble award because every person was integral to the filmmaking process. I think I want to pass this off to Kirsten Dunst since she hasn’t said anything
Kirsten Dunst: I’m so jet-lagged.
Henson: She’s jet-lagged, but she has things to say.
Dunst: Do I, guys? I don’t know. Does anyone have a question? Anybody? Anybody?
Your character in “Hidden Figures” had to say things that had to be almost embarrassing for you.
Dunst: [She says jokingly] I just pretended my character was very frustrated because she was in love with Octavia so I turned it on its head so but yes, it is very uncomfortable and Octavia was just like, “Just do it just do it, baby. Just do it.” I was, “I love you.”
Henson: We laughed a lot in between takes because you know the subject matter was so like whoa. And so it required us to when Ted [Melfi, director of “Hidden Figures”] yelled “cut” we went into jokes because you have to laugh to keep from crying. I don’t understand what it is to live in times like that you know we have agencies there was women we can say what’s on our minds we can snap our fingers or roll our neck.
But you know, back then, these women didn’t have these voices and what I admire most about them and it makes me think about me in the industry do not focus on the problems. Focus on the solutions. Wallowing in muck and talking about what the problem is not moving us anywhere, what are we going to do to get past this?
Then I think that’s why this film is so timely because we find ourselves—wow, interestingly enough, 1962 again almost, right? But the beautiful thing about where we are today in 2017 is the majority of humanity is on the right side of history, so we have to celebrate that. And fear not, because if you have faith, fear and faith cannot co-exist. You’ve got to choose your side pick your battles. I choose faith.