×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Diversity Reigns at SAG Awards After Oscar Controversy; Stars Say ‘The Problem Starts Before the Academy’

The entertainment industry may be reeling from the lack of diversity in the 2016 Oscar nominations, but the winners at the 2016 Screen Actors Guild Awards stood in stark contrast to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

Idris Elba scooped two awards, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation,” and Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for BBC America’s “Luther.”

“How to Get Away with Murder” star Viola Davis won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, while Queen Latifah took the prize for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for her titular role in HBO’s “Bessie.” For the second year running, Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” nabbed the ensemble award for a comedy series, with star Uzo Aduba once again taking home the gong for Female Actor in a Comedy Series.

Backstage after her win, Davis addressed the ongoing conversation regarding diversity in the industry. “We’ve become a society of trending topics. Diversity is not a trending topic … I see myself as an actor, no matter what is going on in the business, I will find a way to practice my art,” she said of finding roles. “All the actors of color I know don’t place any limitations on themselves either… regardless of what’s going on in the industry, no matter what’s going on in the Academy, they will find a way to be excellent. We always have and we always will.”

Davis said that people had to make their own decisions about whether to boycott the Oscars, but urged viewers, “when you walk into a theater, to be open to the experience of the story. I feel like sometimes people feel like the stories of people of color aren’t inclusive – they’re very much inclusive … When you watch Annalise, she’s not just a black woman, she’s a woman going through her life. People forget that in our business, we can’t act in a room; you need the actor; you need the director; you need the writer; and you need the audience… So plop down your money to see ‘Race,’ to see ‘Dope,’ to see ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ … to support directors like Ava DuVernay, Lee Daniels, Spike Lee — their stories are just as important and valid as anyone else’s.”

“OITNB” star Laura Prepon noted on stage, “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity,” referring to the inclusivity of the Netflix show’s cast.

Backstage, castmate Samira Wiley praised “OITNB” creator Jenji Kohan for changing the face of television. “She’s put women on your TV, in your homes, that look like a rainbow. We have different stories, different ages, different body types, different beliefs… It’s a reflection of what the world is like.”

Addressing the lack of representation in the Oscar nominations, “OITNB” cast member Selenis Leyva noted, “The problem starts before the Academy Awards … Producers, directors, casting people need to open their eyes — diversity isn’t just black and white, it’s universal and it’s a lot more than we’re focusing on; it’s religion, it’s sexuality.” She urged content creators at networks and studios to trust that viewers are hungry for stories that reflect diverse experiences. “You will make money, people will tune in.”

Latifah noted that in order for the film industry to catch up to TV in terms of diversity, she thinks “the public has to continue to demand that. We’re in a capitalist society, so hopefully supply and demand will kick back in. Hopefully our business will continue to supply the demand the people are asking for … I hope we wake up and realize the old way of doing things is the old way and it’s okay to evolve … change is inevitable.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers

    Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers From Skipping Fox Ad Breaks

    Fox is hoping to knit together the seconds-long divide between a TV program and the commercials that support it. During ad breaks for a few football broadcasts, tomorrow’s run of the Emmys and Wednesday’s season premiere of “The Masked Singer,” the network will kick off ad sessions with special show promos that display artistic renderings [...]

  • Patria

    HBO Europe Unveils ‘Patria’ Footage to Captive San Sebastian Audience

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Amid large expectation, HBO Europe has revealed first footage giving a first sense of tone and pace of its Spanish original series “Patria.” A packed-to-overflowing press conference on Saturday morning at the San Sebastian Festival can be read as one sign of the potential popularity of the eight-part series. The panel sneak-peek [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • TV Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville'

    TV News Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville' Role in 'Arrowverse' Crossover

    In today’s TV news roundup, Erica Durance reprises her “Smallville” role in the CW’s annual “Arrowverse” crossover, and Showtime shares with Variety an exclusive sneak peek at the return of “The Circus.” FIRST LOOKS “2020 is the most important election of our lifetime,” Alex Wagner says in a new trailer for the fourth season of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content