In what is being touted as a victory for “diversity,” the annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards bent over backwards to bestow as many plaudits as possible on black actors in its ceremony Saturday night, after the Academy Awards came under fire for supposedly favoring whites.
Four black actors—Idris Elba, Viola Davis, Uzo Aduba and Queen Latifah—went home with major awards, and Elba received two. Of the ten awards handed out to individual actors, a full half went to black actors.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to diverse TV,” said Elba, presenting an award after Davis’s win.
It was a good night for British black actor Idris Elba to celebrate. Known to many Americans for his role as drug kingpin Stringer Bell in The Wire, Elba took home two awards, becoming the first single performer to win prizes for two different roles in the same night. Elba won the Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture prize for Beasts of No Nation and the Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries award for Luther.
Viola Davis was given the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for her role as Annalise in How to Get Away with Murder, while Uzo Aduba took home the prize for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for her role in Orange Is the New Black.
For her part, veteran actress Queen Latifah won the prize for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries for her role in Bessie.
In its full-blown political correctness, the SAG awards gave two nods to transgenderism, with Alicia Vikander taking an award for her supporting role in The Danish Girl and Jeffrey Tambor receiving the prize for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series for his lead role as a transgender woman in Transparent.
Vikander thanked the “trans community” in her tearful acceptance speech, while Tambor dedicated his award to the transgender people who don’t have the wealth and privileges of his character, “for their operations, for their medicines, for their freedom.”
Unfortunately, in yet another crushing blow to diversity, no Asians, Hispanics, or Native Americans took home any awards in the entire evening.
In 2015, #OscarSoWhite lit up the Twitter-sphere, accusing the Academy of racial bias, especially for the omission of actor David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay from “Selma.”
Though those protesting this year’s Oscar nominations as “so-white” did not name a specific quota or percentage of awards that they believe should be given to blacks, SAG’s 50% black-white split should placate demonstrators for the moment.
Even if this year’s winners represent only two races, the SAG award ceremony certainly constitutes a victory for affirmative action and the triumph of politics over art, if not for diversity.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.