Nominees Share 'How I Got My SAG Card'

01/18/2014 at 08:20 PM EST

How SAG nominees earned their SAG cards
Claire Danes
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
The Screen Actors Guild Awards is the one awards show where fellow actors get to decide the best performances.

To land a coveted spot on the 4,400 member voting panel, you need to be a card-carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

It may sound intimidating, but a SAG card can be earned through smaller roles on TV, film or radio. This means the evening's biggest stars, the SAG nominees, earned access to the guild through some surprising parts.

Find out the commercials, bit roles and bizarre gigs that started these celebrities on the road to SAG Award glory.

Kerry Washington

Nominees Share 'How I Got My SAG Card'| Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014, 12 Years a Slave, Modern Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Marsden, Sarah Hyland, Sarah Paulson

Kerry Washington

Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic

Nominated for: Outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series for Scandal
SAG Card Role: The ABC Afterschool Special "Magical Makeover"

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Nominees Share 'How I Got My SAG Card'| Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014, 12 Years a Slave, Modern Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Marsden, Sarah Hyland, Sarah Paulson, Actor Class

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Steve Granitz / WireImage

Nominated for: Outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture in 12 Years a Slave SAG Card Role: Ensign Convey in Amistad

Claire Danes

Nominees Share 'How I Got My SAG Card'| Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014, 12 Years a Slave, Modern Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Marsden, Sarah Hyland, Sarah Paulson, Actor Class

Claire Danes

Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP

Nominated for: Outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series for Homeland
SAG Card Role: As a teenage murderer in Law & Order

Benedict Cumberbatch

Nominees Share 'How I Got My SAG Card'| Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014, 12 Years a Slave, Modern Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Marsden, Sarah Hyland, Sarah Paulson

Benedict Cumberbatch

Gabriel Olsen / Getty

Nominated for: Outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture in 12 Years a Slave
SAG Card Role: The actor can't remember the role that turned him into a SAG card carrier, but it did occur in the last year.

Michael Fassbender

Nominees Share 'How I Got My SAG Card'| Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014, 12 Years a Slave, Modern Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Marsden, Sarah Hyland, Sarah Paulson, Actor Class

Michael Fassbender

Jason Merritt / Getty

Nominated for: Outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture in 12 Years a Slave SAG Card Role: Lt. Archie Hicox in Inglorious Basterds



Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Nominees Share 'How I Got My SAG Card'| Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014, 12 Years a Slave, Modern Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Marsden, Sarah Hyland, Sarah Paulson, RolesClass

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Kevork Djansezian / Getty

Nominated for: Outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series for Modern Family
SAG Card Role: A commercial for Dasani bottled water

Sarah Hyland

Nominees Share 'How I Got My SAG Card'| Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014, 12 Years a Slave, Modern Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Marsden, Sarah Hyland, Sarah Paulson

Sarah Hyland

Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP

Nominated for: Outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series for Modern Family
SAG Card Role: A small role in Howard Stern's movie Private Parts

Anna Chlumsky

Nominees Share 'How I Got My SAG Card'| Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014, 12 Years a Slave, Modern Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Marsden, Sarah Hyland, Sarah Paulson, Actor Class

Anna Chlumsky

Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty

Nominated for: Outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series for Veep
SAG Card Role: A commercial for Chloraseptic

James Marsden

Nominees Share 'How I Got My SAG Card'| Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014, 12 Years a Slave, Modern Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Marsden, Sarah Hyland, Sarah Paulson

James Marsden

Tibrina Hobson / WireImage

Nominated for: Outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture in Lee Daniel's Butler
SAG Card Role: A bit role in the pilot episode of The Nanny



Sarah Paulson

Nominees Share 'How I Got My SAG Card'| Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014, 12 Years a Slave, Modern Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Marsden, Sarah Hyland, Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson

Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP

Nominated for: Outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture in 12 Years a Slave
SAG Card Role: 1994 episode of Law & Order "Family Values"

Find out how Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt and more received their SAG cards and see the video evidence.



Much More on the 2014 SAG Awards







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