It’s tradition for the Screen Actors Guild Awards to kick off each year with a quirky yet touching anecdote from a few of the many nominated performers, culminating in the statement “I am an actor.” But for the 2018 SAG Awards, those actors were, more specifically, a diverse group of über-talented actresses, and what they had to say felt like a major dose of inspiration.
I, Tonya’s Allison Janney, Black-ish’s Tracee Ellis Ross, Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown, and the evening’s host, Kristen Bell, were the actors chosen for this year’s spotlight (the show will also feature nearly all female presenters), and they managed to deliver on the full spectrum of emotion with their short speeches. Janney, who is nominated for her role as figure skater Tonya Harding’s mother, divulged that, as a young girl, she coincidentally dreamed of performing on ice, not on-screen: “When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being an Olympic figure skater, but by the age of 12, I was already six feet tall and could barely get around one revolution, let alone a triple axel.” But a gender-swap role as the undertaker’s son in Oliver managed to sway her ambitions toward the dramatic.
Meanwhile, Ross revealed that her dream was to use her voice to make a difference—and to own an enviable collection of footwear, duh. “When I was a little girl, I dreamt of growing up and being a courageous woman who could use my voice for important issues that affect all of us—and have a lot of shoes,” the now fashion icon said. “I am happy to report that both are true. I utilize my agency and my voice for equity and justice in our industry and beyond, and I have so many shoes. I mean, like, I have a lot of shoes. I am Tracee Ellis Ross, and I am an actor.”
One of the evening’s youngest nominees, Brown used her “I am an actor” intro to offer a few words of advice to girls like her with the dream to act. “To the young girls, I believe in you, believe in your dreams, follow your heart. I am Millie Bobby Brown, and I am an actor.” Eleven would certainly approve.
Bell, presiding as a female host of the SAGs for, well, the first time in forever, rounded out the introduction to the show with a nod to her Frozen character and a quip that got the whole famous crowd laughing. “When I was young, I used to record Disney movies on my cassette player. I would sing every lyric in the Disney canon, knowing and believing that one day I would be a part of that magic. I’m Kristen Bell, and I am a narcissist. Sorry, I am an actor, and tonight, I am also your host.”
A fitting start to an already inspiring, female-led celebration.