Before the first hour was up at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the kudo ceremony outstripped the Oscars as an event that truly prized diversity. Too often, the SAG nods get knocked for not appreciating its character actors enough with its limitation on the TV supporting acting categories, but tonight the voting body, unlike AMPAS, didn’t fall short of being inclusive to its members.
Idris Elba — who was overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his turn as a savage warlord in Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation — won best supporting actor for that feature as well as male actor in TV movie-miniseries for BBC America’s Luther. Jeffrey Tambor won his first SAG for playing a transgender father in Amazon’s Transparent, giving the TV vet his first trophy for male lead actor. For the second year in a row, Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black won best comedy series, and Uzo Aduba — aka Crazy Eyes on the show — made it back-to-back wins for comedy supporting. Queen Latifah won best female TV movie/miniseries actor for HBO’s Bessie. And Viola Davis won her fourth SAG Award, after collecting a lead film actress and an ensemble for The Help, and second consecutive for her lead role in the ABC drama How to Get Away With Murder.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to diverse TV,” Elba said on stage. Added Orange‘s Laura Prepon in accepting the show’s best ensemble trophy, “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity.”
When winners when asked backstage to comment on the disparity between the AMPAS and SAG voting body, they just let go.
Orange‘s Selenis Leyva (Glora Mendoza) said: “The problem starts before the Academy Awards. It’s in the studios and the casting people. They need to open their eyes. This is a different world we’re living in. Diversity is universal, and it’s more than we’re focusing on. It’s religion, its sexuality. It doesn’t start at the Academy Awards, it starts before that!”
Tambor told the press backstage that Hollywood is already delivering inclusive stories. “People aren’t paying attention to streaming,” he said. “The stories are being told and the entertainment is being reformed and the way characterization is being done. The whole thing is changing.”
Lifetime Achievement honoree Carol Burnett spoke about how the glass ceiling with female comedians has broken. “The change (in comedy) is that there’s more women. Amy (Poehler) and Tina Fey are running their own shows; it’s a beautiful way that things have changed. Women in comedy are much more respected now. … In TV, women are now allowed to go into the movies. We use to be pigeonholed.”
The Orange Is The New Black cast conversed that the reason why diversity was portrayed more on TV versus film, was due to the medium’s accessibility. “You’re a single mom, and you can’t make it to the movies and being a mom is a lonely job” said actress Kate Mulgrew. “TV … can heal us,
Lea Delaria from Orange beamed: “It’s exciting that we’re having this conversation — it’s a win for the good guys. We wouldn’t be having this conversation five years ago.”