t hasn't even been around for a century yet, but television has reshaped our world, in everything from our political process to the pace of our leisure time. At least one of the ways it has changed us, not noted much outside the pages of acting books or papers like Back Stage and Back Stage West, is in the art of acting, and the reach and impact of that art.
TV acting is obviously a bit like film acting; it too is shot by a camera. But it's not just the size of the screen or the length of the format that makes TV acting different from its feature film cousin—it's also the nature of the medium itself and the element of time. A good TV show is often our companion for years—a companion we invite into our living rooms and bedrooms, where we eat and sleep and go about our lives. And so is the TV actor.
The actor may not feel it at first, strutting his stuff on a soundstage for a three-camera sitcom, or hitting his mark on some fake downtown set for a one-hour single-camera cop drama. But give him a few years on a show to settle into the unblinking attentiveness of the great American heartland, and to settle into a character he'll be identified with the rest of his life, and it will change the way he thinks of his craft. It can make a good actor feel both a greater responsibility to, and a greater confidence in, the art of popular storytelling, in which acting can find one of its highest ends. (On the other hand, the grind of the work can turn some actors into bitter hacks all too eager to bolt at the first feature film offer.)
And, to give them their due, the work of the actor in an MOW or a miniseries falls somewhere between the best of the worlds of feature film and TV acting: On an impossibly fast schedule, an actor must turn in a multi-faceted gem of a performance.
With this special SAG Awards Voters Guide, we hold some of those gems up to the light, alongside many of the most potent and familiar of the household icons, the comedians and tragedians, who grace our televisions each week. The SAG Awards nominating committee picked this slate—now it's your turn as rank-and-file guild members to vote for the winners, and get your ballots in by Mar. 9.
And may the best storytellers win.