The show began as it traditionally does, with actors discussing how they became actors.
But this year there was a twist — only women spoke.
It was further evidence that #MeToo and Time’s Up movements will remain a central focus of Hollywood’s award season.
Women took center stage at the ceremony with the SAG Awards featuring its first-ever host, Kristen Bell and all-female presenters.
SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris hailed the men and women who are members of the union as being “agents of change.”
“Truth is power and women are stepping into their power,” she said. “Make no mistake, this is not a moment is time, this is a movement.”
Actress Rosanna Arquette, who accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, was honored by Marisa Tomei for breaking her silence in October as the pair presented the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a television movie or miniseries.
Arquette got choked up as she called out the names of others who have come forward with accusations against men of power, including Ashley Judd and Asia Argento.
The prize went to Nicole Kidman for her performance in the HBO’s “Big Little Lies.”
She paid tribute to co-nominees Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, along with Meryl Streep and others, for proving that women over 40 have a place in the industry.
“Twenty years ago we were pretty washed up by this stage in our lives, that’s not the case now,” Kidman said. “We’ve proven and these actresses and so many more are proving that we are potent and powerful and viable. I just beg that the industry stays behind us because our stories are finally being told.”
Host Bell kicked off the night with a light approach, joking that she was the “first lady” of the event.
“I think my first initiative as first lady will be cyberbullying, as I have yet to see any progress on that,” Bell quipped.
She also touched on current events, including a joke that the dystopian drama “The Handmaids Tale” was a documentary.
But Bell quickly got more serious.
“Everyone’s story deserves to be told,” she said, referring to those who have come forward in recent months to share their experiences of being abused.
“We are living in a watershed moment,” Bell said. “And as we march forward with active momentum and open ears, let’s make sure that we’re leading the charge with empathy and diligence because fear and anger never win the race.”
The first award of the night for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy went to William H. Macy for “Shameless,” his third for that role and his fourth career win.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus became the most decorated actor in the history of the SAG Awards, with nine wins overall. The “Veep” star, who is receiving treatment for breast cancer, won the award for best performance by a female actor in a comedy series and will receive a statue as a member of the cast of “Veep,” which won for best comedy series ensemble.
“This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown won the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a drama series, becoming the first black actor with this achievement since the Screen Actors Guild started handing out awards in 1995.
Brown had some advice for up-and-coming actors.
“The fame won’t sustain you. The money won’t sustain you,” he said. “The love. Keep that love alive.”
“This Is Us” also took home the statue for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series, a first for the cast.
Sam Rockwell clenched the award for outstanding male actor in a supporting role for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
He thanked the film’s star, Frances McDormand, whom he called a “powerhouse” and gave a nod to the momentum of the women’s movement in Hollywood.
“I’m in awe of [McDormand] and I stand shoulder to shoulder with you and all the incredible women in this room for trying to make things better,” Rockwell said. “It’s long overdue.”
McDormand won for outstanding female actor, and the “Three Billboards” cast took home the top prize for ensemble performance in a theatrical motion picture.
Rita Moreno was visibly moved when she received a standing ovation as she took the stage to present Morgan Freeman with a lifetime achievement award.
“This is beyond honor, this is a place in history,” Freeman said in his acceptance speech.
He also got in on the mood of the night.
“I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with this statue,” Freeman quipped. “It works from the back. From the front it’s gender specific. Maybe I started something?”