The 38-year-old actor opened the show with a pointed barb about the new president’s recent immigration order – which restrict people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States – and set the tone for the evening as almost all of the evening’s winners also referenced the controversial move.
Ashton said: “Good evening, fellow SAG-AFTRA members and everyone at home. And everyone in airports that belong in my America.
“You are a part of the fabric of who we are, and we love you and we welcome you.”
‘Moonlight’ actor Mahershala – who is Muslim – gave a heartfelt speech as he picked up the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role prize and admitted he hoped there was a lot to learn from his movie in the current climate.
The 42-year-old star told the audience at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium: “You see what happens when you persecute people, and they fold into themselves …
“What I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan, was playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community and taking that opportunity to uplift him and tell him he mattered, that he was OK. And accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that…
“My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago.
“You put things to the side and I’m able to see her and she’s able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown. And that stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.”
Julia described the immigration order as a “blemish” and “un-American” as she picked up her award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series.
She said: “My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France.
“I’m an American patriot. And I love this country, and because I love this country, I am horrified by its blemishes, and this immigrant ban is a blemish, and it is un-American.”
Bryan Cranston was asked what his presidential character, Lyndon B. Johnson, who he portrayed in ‘All the Way’, would make of the new president.
The Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Mini-Series winner said: “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 p**s in the soup that all of us got to eat.’ ”
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role winner Denzel Washington, who triumphed for his role in ‘Fences’, called for a more empathetic society, while Emma Stone, who took the female equivelant prize for ‘La La Land’ ended her speech with a reference to the “inexcusable” ban.
She said: “Things are very inexcusable and scary and need action. I’m so grateful to be part of a group of people that cares.”
Accepting the honour for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Mini-Series, ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’ actress Sarah Paulson urged people to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Amid the hilarity of her Life Achievement award speech, Lily Tomlin made a number of pointed quips.
She said: “The Doomsday Clock has been moved to two and a half minutes before midnight. And this award came just in the nick of time.”
She later added: “What sign should I make for the next march? So much to do.”
‘Hidden Figures’ actress Taraji P. Henson noted the film was about unity and showed how important it is to come together.
She said: “When we put our differences aside and we come together as a human race. We win, love wins. Every time.”