The SAG Awards Just Set an Example for Oscars Diversity
Idris Elba may have been snubbed by the Academy Awards this year, but the Beasts of No Nation actor scored big at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Saturday night, taking home a pair of trophies for two separate performances during a ceremony that was hailed for its diversity of nominees.
“Welcome to diverse TV,” Elba said onstage, making a pun out of the word “diversity,” which has been the topic of industry buzz since the Academy Awards nominated white performers in all of its acting categories earlier this month, prompting calls for boycotts from the likes of Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Look at this stage,” Prepon said. “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity. Different race, color, creed, sexual orientation.”
Unlike the Academy Awards, the SAG Awards includes television nominees and focuses solely on acting. But it also differs in another notable way: Its nominees are chosen by actors. Two panels consisting of 2,200 members of the SAG-AFTRA guild decide the nominees for the television and motion picture categories, according to the organization’s website. More than 116,000 of the group’s members are then eligible to vote in all categories.
The Oscars’ nomination process is far more opaque, and its secretive membership has come under scrutiny in recent years, prompting the Academy to issue reforms. An L.A. Times investigation revealed that the Academy’s more than 5,700 voting members were 94 percent white and 77 percent male in 2012. Responding to criticism over its lack of diversity, the Academy’s Board of Governors voted last week to revise its membership policies in an effort to double the number of women and ethnic minorities.
Despite calls for Oscars host Chris Rock to step down in protest, Academy Awards producer Reginald Hudlin confirmed to Variety last week that the comedian is keeping his gig for the Feb. 28 ceremony. Diversity issues will remain in the spotlight, however, with Rock set to incorporate the controversy into his opening monologue.
TakePart’s parent company, Participant Media, is a partner on Beasts of No Nation, as well as on Oscar-nominated films Spotlight, Bridge of Spies, and The Look of Silence.