Actress Maria Bakalova — who won Best Supporting Actress last year for her role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm — was one of the night’s presenters, and began her speech by offering support to the nation.
Bakalova said that Ukraine is “just a few hundred miles away” from her hometown of Burgas, Bulgaria, and that she wanted to “take a moment to acknowledge the bravery of the people of Ukraine, who are defending their right to independence and democracy”.
She continued: “I truly hope that we will come together and usher in a new era of cultural and artistic exchange between Western Europe and Hollywood, which has been a foundational force of creativity in the 20th century.”
The actress added: “We see you, we stand with you and our hearts are with you.”
Prior to the show, Bakalova shared some of the efforts her friends and teachers back in Bulgaria have been making to help the people of Ukraine.
Bulgarian actor Maria Bakalova shares how people in Bulgaria are assisting Ukraine and hopes the war doesn't fuel anti-Slavic sentiment. pic.twitter.com/KerSkF4jGP
— AP Entertainment (@APEntertainment) March 14, 2022
Speaking to the Associated Press, she said: “Bulgaria is pretty, pretty close, on the border with Ukraine, and I’m proud to say that lots of my friends and my teachers — artists from my country — are donating all the sources that they can to bring people to Bulgaria, to secure shelters, to put them in [jobs] with something, to give them education, to find food and everything that they can to help.”
She continued: “I’m a little bit afraid to say that the anti-Slavic stigma still exists, and I’m afraid [of] what is gonna happen now. Hopefully, sooner, the war ends.”
Bakalova wasn’t the only person to voice support of Ukraine during the show.
Ted Lasso actress Hannah Waddington became emotional during her acceptance speech as she spoke of how the Ukrainian people are “being utterly decimated at the moment from this putrid, putrid torrent of abuse”.
Waddington urged: “Please think of them as much as you can and give as much as you can. May this stop.”
Billy Crystal, who was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award, noted his Russian and Ukrainian heritage during his acceptance speech.
“I thank you for this, but I dedicate this award to those amazing people in our living room back in Long Beach, Long Island, whose laughter and joy started this 5-year-old boy on his way to this moment,” he said. “And as we all have thought about and spoken about tonight, I pray that somehow, someway, there can be laughter and joy in that part of the world once again.”
While accepting his award for Best Actor in a Limited Series for his work in Dopesick, Michael Keaton told Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky to “keep up the fight”.
“There’s only one way to change things environmentally, socially and for some sort of racial justice and social justice,” he added. “Two words: Voting rights.”
Finally, right before the final award of the night was presented, Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay took the stage with his fiancé, Veronika Khomym, who is a Ukrainian native.
She said: “I proudly stand with my fellow Ukrainians and I admire their strength. They have faced unimaginable adversity with such profound grace and bravery. Their fight and the way they have united the world is truly inspiring.
“There is no place in our world for this kind of violence and our prayers go out to all the lives that have been lost.”