Jessica Booth
January 19, 2018 4:55 pm
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Turner

The 2018 SAG Awards are airing live on Sunday, January 21st, and we’re more than a little excited to see who’s going to be bringing home an “Actor” statue. While this year’s show seems to be trying to bring in more viewers by announcing a host for the first time ever, many people remain in the dark about what makes this show stand out compared to other major award events. One big difference is how the voting for the SAG Awards works.

This process is pretty unique compared to other Hollywood award shows, and it’s the thing that really makes the SAG Awards what they are — a night of actors celebrating actors. Winners are chosen based on votes from their peers rather than a committee of Hollywood higher-ups. So while Oscar winners are picked based on votes from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, SAG winners are chosen based on votes from friends or people they may have worked with before.

To start the process, actors and actresses have to either submit their performance in the category of their choice, or they have to give permission for someone else (a producer, studio/network, agent, manager, or publicist) to submit their performance. So, essentially, stars have to put their own names in the ring.

After that’s done, there are two stages. First, members of the Motion Picture and Television Nominating Committees review these materials, called “For Your Consideration” materials, and vote on the nominees. Since the SAG Awards give accolades for both television and film work, there are two separate nominating panels: one for film and one for television, each one made up of 2,500 members. These are Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists members who have opted in to serve previously. The nominating committee members are randomly selected in the spring, and the same people aren’t always chosen — once a member is drawn for a committee, they can’t be drawn again for another eight years.

In the second stage, all active SAG-AFTRA members get the chance to vote. According to the official Screen Actors Guild Awards site, “all active, paid-up SAG-AFTRA members who paid their November 2017 dues by our December 1 deadline are eligible to vote for the recipients fo the 24th Annual SAG Awards.”

During the voting process, members are expected to familiarize themselves with the nominees by watching screeners, which can be set up by studios and sometimes offer Q&As with the talent afterwards. Studios often provide and mail out DVDs of performances, although they aren’t required to do so. If they don’t provide DVDs, there are digital film downloads and streaming options.

This is truly a show for and about actors and actresses, and the voting process makes these awards a very big honor for many of the celebrities in attendance. We know we’ll be tuning in to see who scores the biggest awards this year!