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Women in Hollywood are uniting to deliver an important message during awards season.

As the brightest stars in Hollywood gather at the SAG awards to celebrate the best films of the year, these time-honored celebrations may look a little different — and for good reason.

Women in Hollywood are uniting to deliver an important message during awards season.

For the first time ever, the 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards will be hosted by a woman, Kristen Bell, and all of the night's presenters will be women.

This is not a coincidence. It's a very intentional, kickass decision to honor the women who made 2017 such a game-changing year when it comes to speaking up about attacks on women and families, sexual harassment, and misconduct.

“Beginning with the Women’s March in January, it’s been the year of the woman," SAG Awards Executive Director Kathy Connell told The Hollywood Reporter. “This is a unifying salute to women who have been very brave and speaking up.”


Kristen Bell attends the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the Artists Awards. Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for SAG-AFTRA Foundation.

Putting women front and center is not an attempt to slight or punish men for their performances or contributions to the industry this year. (Though frankly, some of them may deserve it.) Instead, the all-women lineup is a way to honor the strength and talent of women in a unique and highly visible way.

"It’s still an awards show and a celebration — we’re not here to preach to anybody,” Connell said. “To me, just having some of these fabulous women onstage sends its own message.”

Niecy Nash and Olivia Munn speak at the Screen Actors Guild Awards Nominations Announcement. Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images.

Just prior to the SAG Awards, women attending the 2018 Golden Globes will make a statement before the show even begins by wearing black on the red carpet.

According to US Weekly, a small group of actresses decided to wear black to protest the pervasive sexual harassment and misconduct against women in the industry. The idea has since spread, and some stars are even changing their gowns in time for rapidly approaching Jan. 7 award show.

Since the fashion at these award programs is as closely watched as the talent, every photo and red carpet interview will be an opportunity for women to share their own story or the impact sexual misconduct has had on the industry.

It's sure to be a powerful demonstration.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Official or unofficial, these coordinated efforts to center women and equality are right on time.

As more women (and folks who aren't women) break the crushing silence that often follows sexual harassment or assault, it is becoming abundantly clear just how toxic and pervasive this problem is. Not just in Hollywood, but across every industry.

By prompting the discussion of these important issues at some of the most-watched events of the year, this long-overdue conversation continues — hopefully leading toward safe and comfortable workplaces for all.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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