What Sets the SAG Awards Apart From the Rest

The 2020 SAG Awards nominations were announced on Wednesday and, now, in honor of the show, we're looking at what makes these awards extra special.

By Billy Nilles Dec 11, 2019 3:55 PMTags
Related: 26th Annual SAG Award Nominations Complete List

There's nothing like being honored by your peers.

Winning an Oscar or an Emmy comes with an undeniable amount of prestige. Meanwhile, box office returns and ratings give you a window into how the public feels about your art. But to have the people who know your craft the best—your former co-stars, your audition competition, your time slot rivals—deem your performance the best in your field that year is an unparalleled sense of validation. Enter the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

One of the younger award shows on the block, the SAG Awards were established only 26 years ago by what was then known as the Screen Actors Guild, the union formed in 1933 to represent film and television principal and background performers worldwide. (In 2012, SAG merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to become SAG-AFTRA.) And at the onset of the first ceremony in 1995, the legendary Angela Lansbury took the stage to emphasize why the night mattered.

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"Tonight is dedicated to the art and craft of acting by the people who should know about it: actors," she told the crowd of nominees and presenters gathered at Universal Studios' Stage 12. "And remember, you're one too!"

In the ensuing 20-plus years since that first ceremony, the location of the event and the overall scale may have changed, with the Shrine Auditorium now housing the SAG Awards, but that initial edict has always remained the same. A simple event (2018's host, Kristen Bell, marked the ceremony's first host ever) that traditionally eschews many of the distracting sideshows that bloat the run times of other award shows, the SAG Awards have never forgotten that this night is about actors celebrating actors. Period.

Related: SAG Awards 2019: By the Numbers

Between the night's signature opening montage of "Actors Stories," the yearly presentation of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and awarding of the coveted Actor statuettes in thirteen categories recognizing both individual performances as well as the entire ensemble of one drama series, one comedy series, and one motion picture, the focus is squarely on the actor. (We know, we know, like they don't get enough attention.) And it's that for us, by us ethos that makes this the one award show where the sappy old "It's just an honor to be nominated" saying just might actually be true.

TBS and TNT will simulcast the 26th Annual SAG Awards live on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020 at 8.p.m. EST. 

(This story was originally published on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, at 3 a.m. PT.)