Since Donald Trump's election to the Presidency in 2016, actor Robert De Niro has never shied away from getting political.
This past Sunday, January 19, De Niro won the Screen Actors Guild's highest honor: the Life Achievement Award. In his acceptance speech, the actor called out a number of modern injustices before condemning President Trump's abuses of power.
De Niro was introduced by Leo DiCaprio, who referenced many of his most iconic roles.
In a statement announcing the honor, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris wrote:
"The characters he creates captivate our imaginations. From the smoldering inferno of young Vito Corleone to the raging bull Jake Lamotta and everybody's grandpa Ben Whittaker, he continues to touch our hearts and open our minds to new and exciting worlds of understanding and emotion."
De Niro then took the stage and thanked SAG-AFTRA for their work supporting actors, noting their work is even more important "these days when there's so much hostility towards unions."
"Political leaders who support unions are more likely to support the Affordable Care Act, equitable taxes, humane immigration regulation, a safe environment, a diverse citizenry, reproductive rights, sensible gun control, and fair wages and benefits. We owe them our support, and we owe them our vote."
De Niro also noted that there were many who preferred he remain silent about politics, but said that "we're in such a dire situation, so deeply concerning to me and to so many others" that he had to speak up.
"There's right and there's wrong and there's common sense and there's abuse of power. And as a citizen, I have as much right as anybody ― an actor, an athlete, a musician, anybody else ― to voice my opinion, and if I have a bigger voice because of my situation, I'm going to use it whenever I see a blatant abuse of power. And that's all I'm going to say about that tonight."
"If I have a bigger voice because of my situation, I am going to use it whenever I see a blatant misuse of power."… https://t.co/Oi2pYVC0Du— The Hollywood Reporter (@The Hollywood Reporter)1579487446.0
After leaving the stage, De Niro stayed away from politics and expressed immense gratitude to SAG for the award.
"It's that simple. To be honored by your peers ... I don't even know what to say."
Robert De Niro used his #SAGAwards speech to advocate for unions, affordable healthcare, fair wages, voting rights,… https://t.co/QrCAwUycoD— Sergio Siano (@Sergio Siano)1579486719.0
God, I love Robert De Niro. https://t.co/nvmNlqxjSD— Jesabel (@Jesabel)1579487393.0
Political Twitter was grateful that De Niro used his platform to speak out in favor of unions.
A big shoutout to #unions tonight from Robert De Niro at #SAGAwards. Unions like @sagaftra fight tirelessly to en… https://t.co/EesZsaRVll— UFCW (@UFCW)1579488777.0
@UFCW @sagaftra Much respect to Robert De Niro for using his huge platform to speak for the rights for the average… https://t.co/tuweJhFPRW— Shad Mohammadi, Executive MBA (@Shad Mohammadi, Executive MBA)1579500409.0
What's more, in such a politically divisive time, De Niro calling out Trump's abuses of power is no small deal.
@realTuckFrumper God, I love De Niro!— Brucette Beitz (@Brucette Beitz)1579490460.0
Kudos to #RobertDeNiro, one of the greatest and most accomplished actors for the SAG lifetime achievement award. Al… https://t.co/QBXm0uOrCV— Cami Sheffield (@Cami Sheffield)1579487572.0
Robert De Niro = a true Hollywood legend.
I know that guy from down at the union hall. #RobertDeNiro https://t.co/eXY5zeYk4P— Tom Arnold (@Tom Arnold)1579510218.0
Thank you #RobertDeNiro for speaking the truth tonight on the #SAGAwards2020. 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏👏🏿👏🏾👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏👏🏾 https://t.co/Qs8YwAT4XW— Brent (@Brent)1579488834.0
After so many amazing roles, it's easy to forget that De Niro is constantly playing his most important one: a concerned citizen.