This is the event where us, the members of the union vote for and reward the best actors of our organization with yearly peer to peer accolades. Except for one thing......we are not truly "peers", at least not beyond our union affiliation. The nominees and recipients of the SAG awards are always famous actors and actresses....whereas most members of the union are not.
So you see we are not truly peers voting for peers, at least not in the perspective of dollars and cents. Like most industries, in the entertainment business, we award the participants in highly financially successful endeavors and exclude most others. SAG Awards are given to productions and actors with known names, even though there are hundreds or thousands of actors who have done an amazing job in some role or another this past year in very small budget films and but were not seen by the nominating or voting members and so are not included. Even though I'm sure Daniel Day Lewis deserves an award for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, perhaps John Doe, unknown actor # 8,554 in the Screen Actors Guild deserves it more for his role in some barely seen independent film of a forgettable name. Maybe, just maybe, if all the members of the union saw this performance they would unanimously agree that this actor deserves the award over any other. However, just like almost every other business, you must be financially successful to be judged as a stand out.
Only about 10% of the union members earn enough to make a living per year in the profession of acting. This is a statistic that hasn't changed much over time for the better or worse. So, most of us, the 90% or so, have some good years and some slow years. To balance this out, we have parallel careers. In addition to entertainment, I have had a career in conventions and marketing for 15 years. Others are teachers, models, bartenders, accountants, you name it. This is just a fact, that the majority of card carrying union actors have to have real jobs in addition to our reel jobs.....and most are pretty good sports about it, including myself.
Maybe it would be fun to do the SAG Awards the other way around. For the famous and wealthy actors to vote for and hand over awards to several unknown professional actors. To, for one night put those in the spotlight who are usually just outside its reach.
I can just imagine standing onstage next to Jude Law or Cate Blanchett while hearing the words, "Anna Wendt, this award is for your 15 years of perseverance in the entertainment business. You have stuck with and accepted with your head held high, every small role, stand in job, and featured extra role since your very first one. Here is your Unknown Actor of the Year SAG award. Congratulations!"....
(Ok back to reality, the picture above is me accepting a Billboard Award "for rehearsal only" at a Billboard Awards rehearsal....).
The FIRST ever Screen Actors Guild Awards were held in 1995. For a flashback in time here were the evening's major winners:
Tom Hanks, in Forrest Gump....and yes, life is still like a box of chocolates
Martin Landau, in Ed Wood.....he pulled off the heroin addicted "Bela Lugosi" beautifully, and showed us the true meaning of dark comedy.
Seinfeld, who can remember a time it wasn't only seen in reruns?
Picket Fences, I never watched this show. I grew up in a small town and already know all the secrets of that life ;)
and.......I must admit I either hadn't heard of or don't remember these two films with legendary award winners that night, but am sure going to Netflix them now!
Raul Julia, The Burning Season, as Chico Mendes
Joanne Woodward, The Breathing Lesson as Maggie Moran
Yes, I got this all below from Wikipedia.org
The SAG Awards have been one of the major awards events in Hollywood since 1995. Nominations for the awards come from 4,200 randomly selected members of the union, with the full membership available to vote for the winners. The awards have been televised for the past several years on TNT, but now also airs on TBS.
The performers who have received the most SAG Awards are:
Alec Baldwin with 7 awards, and Julianna Margulies, 8 awards.
For more info and nostalgia:
How did you get your SAG card?.....Hollywood Underdog