Viola Davis & Uzo Aduba Make SAG History: Both Lead Actress Titles Won By Black Women

Viola Davis & Uzo Aduba Make

Viola Davis won the outstanding lead drama actress prize at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards for her role in “How to Get Away With Murder.” Davis is just the third actress of color to nab the title.

Sandra Oh of “Grey’s Anatomy” won the award in 2005, followed by Chandra Wilson in 2006, who won for the same show. Those two victories — along with Davis’ — were all for series produced by Shonda Rhimes.

The award for outstanding comedy actress also went to an African-American performer — Uzo Aduba won her first-ever SAG award for her work on “Orange Is the New Black” at the Jan. 25 ceremony, marking the first year both winning lead actresses were African-American.

“Ugly Betty’s” America Ferrera won for lead actress in a comedy series in 2006, and was the first Latina to score the prize.

The SAG Awards suggest that Hollywood is moving in the right direction — especially after not one actor of color was nominated for the upcoming Academy Awards — but Davis tells Variety that there is still much progress to be made.

“It starts with the casting. It starts with the narratives. The narratives have got to be inclusive,” Davis said on the red carpet, moments before her big win. “We’re in the 21st century now. People are multicultural now. We know more now about the world and what the world looks like, and it’s got to be reflected in the scripts.”

As for being recognized by her peers, Davis added, “The acknowledgement of your work is great. You always want to feel like you’re affecting people and it’s great that you’re affecting just the masses, but to affect people who really know the process, too, it’s why we do what we do.”

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  1. jdp5547 says:

    And yet we still have people who complain that black women are ignored by the world of entertainment.

  2. Brandon Bell says:

    Zyggie, I think we will stop looking at color a look at just work, talent and jobs done, when the larger society chooses to do that. This is a society and a culture that is very much lady with issues of race and racism. It is noted that these two women are Black because it is still news. Obviously they won because of their work and their talent. But it has only been recent that this is even possible. In fact when you look at the Academy, it’s nominees and it’s nominators and you understand the issue. We, Americans, are a people who tend to stick to and support those from their clan. That’s where we go wrong. If you can let go of whatever issues you may have around race and ethnicity maybe you can help others let go of theirs. I have already begun that journey.

  3. zyggie says:

    When will we stop looking at color and really look honestly at the work, talent and jobs being done.
    Not who the actor knows, connections, repayment for favors or kids of celebs being given jobs without talent. there are a lot of great actors of all colors out there and they are not being given a chance and those who are winning awards are very few and far in-between. TV shows and movies where real talent is exhibited are ignored. Shows with people pulling hair, sleeping around, having baby after baby, taking selfies etc are hits. Go figure?????
    The system is flawed that’s very obvious.

  4. Davis Shondavi says:

    So in other words if Shondaland isnt making it then no people of color will be nominated or win. Must be nice for all the other showrunners not to be burdened with such trivial matters.

  5. zyggie says:

    Some people get hung up on the wrong things…..words….really. Mrs. Davis is an awesome actress.

  6. M2B says:

    if those people really knew the process as Ms. Davis stated I would think they would know nothing could be harder than playing 6 different characters acting off of each other in multiple languages.

  7. Ron says:

    Wait, I’m confused. The title of this article is accurate. But the sentence within the article that reads, “Uzo Aduba won her first-ever SAG award for her work on “Orange Is The New Black” at the Jan. 25 ceremony, marking the first year both winning lead actresses were people of color.” It’s the latter part of that sentence that is factually inaccurate, even according to this very article. This article states that in 2006 Chandra Wilson won Lead Drama Actress and also in 2006 America Ferrera won Lead Comedy Actress. Wouldn’t that make 2006 the first year both winning lead actresses were people of color? Again, the title specifying black women makes this article accurate; the sentence stating first year for people of color (which is a broader statement) makes this article inaccurate.

  8. Add Cristina Yang and you have the only 3 women of color to EVER win a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series and all 3 hail from Shondaland ‪

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