SAG Awards 2024: Find Out How These 20 Stars Got Their SAG Cards

Whether it was through memorable roles, unexpected commercials, or chance encounters, these stars share their heartfelt experiences of joining the esteemed SAG union.

Updated on Feb 23, 2024  |  07:15 AM IST |  73.4K
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Jennifer Lawrence (Getty Images)

Obtaining a SAG card marks a significant milestone in every actor's career, whose work is exclusively honored at the SAG Awards that first debuted in 1995, and amid the excitement of the approaching 2024 SAG Awards, we thought it would be only fair to look back on the journey of how these 20 celebrities earned their entry to the SAG union. 

Anne Hathway 

Anne Hathway (Getty Images)

Hathway, who made her acting debut in 1999 in the short-lived TV series Get Real, recalled her journey of getting her SAG card in her 2013 Best Supporting Actress speech.

“I got my first SAG card when I was 14,” she said. 

“It felt like the beginning of the world. I have loved every single minute of my life as an actor. And I have been the recipient of so much kindness and support from actors in this room and out of it. "

Sophie Turner 

Sophie Turner (Getty Images)

The Game of Thrones actress shared with Elle how she felt about earning a SAG card, “I felt really great. It felt like I was actually a real actress. I was part of something, finally. I don't actually know where it is — I think I lost it. But it means so much to me! I keep it in my heart.” 

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Amanda Seyfried 

Amanda Seyfried (Getty Images)

The Dropout actress earned her SAG card after her cult favorite role as Karen Smith in Mean Girls. “It was my first movie and we all just really enjoyed being around each other,” she told Backstage in 2022. 

Sarah Paulson 

Sarah Paulson (Getty Images)

“I got my SAG card in 1994 doing an episode of Law & Order, which is a right of passage for any American actor, I think, or any actor of any kind,” Paulson said in 2016. 

Elle Fanning 

Elle Fanning (Getty Images)

Fanning earned her SAG card before she turned 3, courtesy of her playing the younger version of sister Dakota’s character in I Am Sam. “I played her at a younger age, so we weren't really acting together. I was so young,” she told Entertainment Tonight in May 2020. 

Lamorne Morris

Lamorne Morris (Getty Images)

A McDonald's commercial got Morris his SAG card. Recounting the milestone moment to Elle, the New Girl star said, “I did a McDonald’s commercial. It was back in Chicago. It was a Chicken McNuggets commercial and I was changing a sign to say 99 cents.” 

He added, “It made me feel horror because I had to pay those SAG dues. I was like, ‘I booked a McDonald's commercial, not a TV show.’ But I feel validated, like finally I'm a legit actor.” 

Jennifer Lawrence 

Jennifer Lawrence (Getty Images)

“I did an MTV promo for My Super Sweet 16,” the actress said during her 2013 acceptance speech for Silver Linings Playbook. “I remember getting [the SAG card] in the mail and it being the best day of my entire life because it officially made me a professional actor — which put me in a category with all of you. And now I have this naked statue that means that some of you even voted for me.” 

Armie Hammer 

Armie Hammer (Getty Images)

The Call Me by Your Name actor told the fascinating tale of him earning his SAG card to Vulture in 2018. “I'm not sure what the movie ended up being called, or if it even got released. I think it was called Laura Smiles or Laura’s Smile. I played a waiter, and they cut my head off from about chest up, and you only see me walk up with an apron and say, ‘Hey, do you guys need anything else?’ And that's all I said! But because I actually said something, they had to give me a SAG card.” 

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Ellie Kemper 

Ellie Kemper (Getty Images)

Speaking to Elle, The Office alum revealed, “I got my SAG card for a K-Mart commercial where I had a tarantula crawling all over my face. It was so dirty and large and it felt closer to a kitten than an insect and it was actually kind of nice — I only work with real animals.” 

Rita Wilson 

Rita Wilson (Getty Images)

Wilson’s role in The Brady Bunch earned her the SAG card. “I played Pat Conway, the cheerleader who Greg chose to become head cheerleader. It was so much fun,” she told Esquire in October 2014. 

Alison Brie 

Alison Brie (Getty Images)

“It was an anti-drug PSA,” the actress told TV Guide. “This was the first thing I ever auditioned for. They didn't pay me to do the commercial, but they gave me my SAG card.” 

Samira Wiley 

Samira Wiley (Getty Images)

The Orange Is the New Black star earned her SAG card for the 2011 film The Sitter. “It felt unreal. It was something I’d always heard about and felt like I was going to work my entire life to get. It was like a dream come true,” Wiley told Elle. “I don’t know why I keep it in my wallet, but maybe in case someone is like ‘Are you?’ and then I can be like ‘Yes’ and pull it out. It is like a detective badge: ‘SAG, please step aside,’” she quipped. 

Kerry Washington 

Kerry Washington (Getty Images)

“The ABC Afterschool Special[s] ‘Magical Make-Over’ is what earned me my SAG card, and I’m back here at ABC still,” Kerry Washington explained during an E! red carpet interview in 2013. “I think I was a cheerleader in it.” 

Benedict Cumberbatch 

Benedict Cumberbatch  (Getty Images)

“I bribed a senator, that's how I got it,” Benedict Cumberbatch joked. “I can't remember when I got it. I got it at some point. 

Betty White 

Betty White (Getty Images)

The veteran actress revealed to TV Guide that a goodwill gesture helped her earn her SAG card.

“Fran Van Hartesveldt, a commercial agent in town, explained to me that to get a SAG card, I needed a job and to get a job, I needed a SAG card,” she recalled. “He had pity on me and gave me one line in a show called The Great Gildersleeve. Years later, when I got my own show, I hired Fran as one of my writers.” 

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Laura Prepon 

Laura Prepon (Getty Images_

“I was doing this MCI commercial when I was 17,” Laura Prepon told Elle. “I think that made me eligible and then I got it on That ‘70s Show. I had no clue what it was because I had never acted before I got the commercial. It was one of those things that was like kismet — it kind of found me.” 

Laverne Cox 

Laverne Cox (Getty Images)

“I was eligible for many years before I actually joined. I had to join when I booked an episode of Law and Order: SVU,” Cox told Elle. “The episode is called ‘Closet,’ I think. I joined and I didn't have the money for the dues so they put me on a payment plan. I paid off my SAG dues in 2008 over a six-month period.” 

Peter Facinelli 

Peter Facinelli (Getty Images)

“I ran into Dick Wolf…I said, ‘I didn't get my diploma because of you, but I got my SAG card because of you,” Facinelli said in a red-carpet interview at the 2013 SAG Awards. He played Shane Sutter in Season 5 of Dick Wolf’s Law & Order. 

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Jesse Tyler Ferguson 

Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Getty Images)

“I got my SAG card doing the first-ever commercial for Dasani bottled water,” Tyler Ferguson told TV Guide. “I thought I only got the part because of my red hair but then the commercial was shot in black and white and I realized I got the part because I could sell the s— out of overpriced bottled water.” 

Padma Lakshmi 

Padma Lakshmi (Getty Images)

“This is how I first got my SAG card by playing a glorified extra on the film ‘Jungle 2 Jungle,’” Padma Lakshmi said in a since-deleted Instagram post, which detailed her SAG story. 

“I was credited as ‘The Snake Lady’ because of a snakeskin coat they made me wear,” she added. 

The 30th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards is scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 24. It will stream exclusively on Netflix starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

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