So, What Exactly Are the SAG Awards?

They're coming up quick — here's everything you need to know. 

Most people can rattle off the names of some of the top awards ceremonies — whether it’s the Oscars, Grammys, Emmys or Tonys. But Hollywood has another big night that should definitely be on your radar: the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards.

You may not hear as much about them, but as a matter of fact, plenty of celebrities have said they favor the night because the awards are solely dedicated to performers and their craft. And sometimes, if we're lucky, they render hilariously meme-able moments, like Winona Ryder at the 2017 SAG Awards. But what exactly do they entail?

24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Press Room
Dan MacMedan/Getty Images

For starters: This year’s event, hosted by Will and Grace’s Megan Mullally, will take place on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, and the red carpet fun starts at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT.

For more details about how the night will play out, read on.

They’re the new kids on the block.

Unlike the Oscars or the Golden Globes — which have been around since 1929 and 1944, respectively — the SAG Awards didn’t start until 1995, according to its website. The awards ceremony is presented by the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), two unions that represent 160,000 performers, ranging from actors to journalists to dancers.

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Who chooses the nominees?

If you’ve ever watched the ceremony or scrolled through Instagram on the night of the awards, then chances are high you’ve seen your favorite actors and actresses thanking their peers. That’s because all SAG-AFTRA members who have paid their dues are the ones casting the votes, according to the SAG Awards website. From there, randomly selected special committees made up of active, paid-up members choose the final nominees.

In a 2018 Instagram post about the SAG Awards, Mandy Moore wrote of the This Is Us win: “Thank you, thank you to all @sagaftra members who voted and allowed us to celebrate this tremendous honor. We are blown away!!”

Who are this year’s nominees?

Nominees for the 2019 SAG Awards were announced in December, with A Star Is Born leading the pack with four nominations in the film categories, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Other films recognized for their actors' prowess include BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite and Crazy Rich Asians.

For television, you’ll see actors from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Ozark getting a lot of attention, as well as ensembles from the following shows:

  • Barry
  • GLOW
  • The Handmaid's Tale
  • The Kominsky Method
  • The Americans
  • Better Call Saul
  • Handmaid's Tale
  • Ozark
  • This Is Us
  • Atlanta
  • Barry
  • GLOW
  • Kominsky Method

Who has hosted the ceremony?

Believe it or not, last year’s 24th annual ceremony gave the first-ever hosting role to actress Kristen Bell. Mullally will helm the ship this year, making her the second host since the awards began.

Are there any special awards?

In addition to the 13 categories in television and film, like Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, the SAG Awards also gives nods to stunt performers. This year, SAG Awards Ambassadors Harry Shum Jr. (Crazy Rich Asians) and Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale) will announce the winners for Outstanding Action Performances by Film and Television Stunt Ensembles during the red carpet festivities, the SAG Awards website noted.

Tom Hanks will also present actor Alan Alda with the SAG Life Achievement Award during the ceremony. Previous honorees have included Elizabeth Taylor, Dick Van Dyke, Sidney Poitier, Carol Burnett and Audrey Hepburn.

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