Thursday, September 16, 2021

Viola Davis & Idris Elba Talk Diversity at the 2016 SAG Awards

While last week saw an explosion of responses to the Oscar nomination’s complete lack of diversity – Jada Pinkett-Smith, Spike Lee and Stacy Dash all speaking out on the controversy – the 2016 SAG Awards that held on Saturday 30th of January was applauded for its celebration of actors of colour, where Idris Elba and Viola Davis both spoke on diversity.

‘Best Actress in a TV Drama’ winner, Ms Davis told Entertainment Weekly backstage after collecting her award for How to Get Away with Murder;

 “We have become a society of trending topics. Diversity is not a trending topic.

I’ve always considered myself an actor since I got my equity card in 1988. I’ve never put any limitations on myself. I felt like I could play Chekhov, any character in Chekhov and Shakespeare in Arthur Miller, in August Wilson. I see myself as an actor.”

Viola on the red carpet at the 2016 SAG Awards, wearing ??
Viola on the red carpet at the 2016 SAG Awards, wearing ??

READ MORE: VIOLA DAVIS, EVA LONGORIA, LAVERNE COX & MORE ON THE SAGS RED CARPET!

Addressing the Oscars boycott, which will see Jada Pinkett-Smith and her husband Will not attending the event, as well as Spike Lee (though he told the press he wouldn’t describe his decision as a ‘boycott’), Viola also said;

“No matter what is going on in the business, I will find a way to practice my art, and all of the actors of colour who I know don’t place any limitations on themselves either. So regardless of what is going on with the Academy, regardless of what is going on in Hollywood, they will find a way to be excellent. We always have and we always will.

People should do what they want to do with the Oscars. If they want to watch it, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s fine.”

READ MORE: JADA PINKETT SLAMMED BY EX-FRESH PRINCE OF BELL AIR CO-STAR FOR OSCARS RANT

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The SAGs this year saw winners including Viola, Queen Latifah, Uzo Aduba and Idris Elba, who won two awards (‘Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role’ and ‘Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries’) for his roles in Beasts of No Nation and Luther, and told the audience, while presenting an award;

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to diverse TV.”

Idris on screen, playing ?? in Beasts of No Nation
Idris on screen, playing ?? in Beasts of No Nation, for which was controversially overlooked for an award at this year’s Oscars

Following Mr Elba’s opinion, Ms Davis also spoke of the importance of diversity on screen, saying;

“I think that sometimes people feel like stories about people of colour are not inclusive. They’re very much inclusive. I mean, the works of August Wilson, which really pretty much made my career, is everyone’s story….When you watch Annalise [on How to Get Away With Murder], she’s not just a black woman, she is a woman going through her life, you know?

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And I feel like people forget that in our business, we can’t act alone. You need the actor, you need the writer, you need the director, and finally you need the audience. So I’m just saying, plop your money down to see Race, to see Dope, to see Straight Outta Compton, to see Selma, do support directors like Ava DuVernay, Lee Daniels, Spike Lee… Their stories are just as valid and as important as anyone else.

…More important than boycotting, is openness.”

As the #OscarsSoWhite debate continues to generate comment and opinion, we look forward to the ceremony on February 28th and how, if at all, the issue will be addressed on the night.

Meanwhile, we at SPICE congratulate Viola Davis, Idris Elba, Queen Latifah, Uzo Aduba and everyone else who won at the 2016 SAG Awards, and look will hope for to a continuation in the celebration of diversity, across the TV and film industry from its awarding bodies.

Image source: Trbimg.com, Annett-cdn.com, Usmagazine.com

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