While the Academy Awards is in the grips of a race row crisis, the Screen Actors Guild proved to be a clear celebration of diversity on Saturday.
The winners list, unveiled at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, was a stark antidote to the controversy that has overwhelmed Hollywood’s awards season and the #OscarsSoWhite backlash.
There was a double win for British star Idris Elba, who won Best Supporting Actor for Beasts Of No Nation, about child soldiers in Africa, and Best Actor in a TV Miniseries for Luther.
Elba, in fact, succinctly summed up what was happening when he took the stage for a third time, as a presenter, and said: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to diverse TV!’
It followed not only his wins but those by the cast of the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series and for its star Uzo Aduba for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.
There were also wins for Viola Davis won for her performance in the TV series How To Get Away With Murder and Queen Latifah for her performance in HBO’s Bessie.
What made the night’s events so interesting was the fact that members of SAG were casting their votes right up until the end of the day on Friday.
That meant that the 160,000 guild members were making their decisions as the lack of diversity row over the Academy Awards was in high gear and talks of a boycott were being bandied about.
And since actors make up the largest voting bloc in the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, it’s interesting to see them voting firmly in favor of diversity on big and small screens.
It would be hard not to wonder how much the ‘OscarsSoWhite’ backlash influenced the way votes were cast for Saturday night’s SAGs.
British star Elba was overcome when his name was called for the second time in quick succession.
Elba, who first made his name in the gritty drama series The Wire, was a surprise winner despite the critical acclaim he has received for his performance in Beasts Of No Nation and as a tormented detective in Luther.
‘I remember getting my SAG card from Law & Order 20 odd years ago,’ the actor said as he excitedly collected his first award of the night for Beasts Of No Nation.
‘We made a film about real people and real lives, you know, and to be rewarded for it is very special. Thank you for giving this film some light, respect, love.’
Read more: Daily Mail