By Piya Sinha-Roy and Nichola Groom
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to diverse TV,” Idris Elba joked on stage after winning twice at Saturday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, where actors of color claimed a slew of wins amid a furor in Hollywood over the lack of on-screen diversity.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson and the cast of “Spotlight” – all white actors – won the top three film awards of the night, but the rest mainly honored diverse cast and roles. That is in stark contrast to the Oscars, where no actors of color are nominated this year for the industry’s highest honors.
“Spotlight,” about the Boston Globe’s probe of child abuse in the Catholic Church, beat out hip-hop biopic “Straight Outta Compton” for best film ensemble. The movie starred Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams.
“This is not only for survivors of this horrific situation, this is really for the disenfranchised,” Keaton said. “This is for the Flint, Michigans in the world, for the powerless.”
DiCaprio was named best actor for playing a fur-trapper in pioneer-era retribution drama “The Revenant.”
“We all stand on shoulders of giants, so thank all those actors from past who have inspired me and all the actors in this room,” DiCaprio said.
Larson, who played a woman held hostage with a young son in “Room,” was named best actress, while Sweden’s Alicia Vikander won best supporting actress for playing the wife of transgender artist Lili Elbe in “The Danish Girl.”
“Spotlight,” DiCaprio, Larson and Vikander are all nominated for Oscars, and with their Saturday wins, are cemented as front-runners in their respective categories.
Elba, a black British actor, won two SAG awards: best supporting actor for playing a mercenary commander in Netflix’s West African war drama “Beasts of No Nation,” and best actor in a limited series for BBC’s crime drama “Luther.”
“We made a film about real people and real lives, and to be awarded for that is very special,” Elba said of his “Beasts” win.
In the television categories, which featured far more diverse actors and roles, Netflix’s women’s prison show “Orange Is the New Black,” won the best comedy series ensemble award for the second consecutive year.
“Look at this stage,” cast member Laura Prepon said while accepting the award. “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity. Different race, color, creed, sexual orientation.”
“Orange” star Uzo Aduba won best comedy series actress for playing kooky inmate Crazy Eyes, Queen Latifah won best actress in a TV miniseries for playing blues singer Bessie Smith in HBO’s “Bessie,” and Viola Davis won best drama actress for ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder.” All three actresses are black.
Jeffrey Tambor won best comedy series actor for playing Maura Pfefferman, an aging wealthy transgender woman in Amazon’s “Transparent.”
“I’d like to dedicate this award to the non-Maura Pfeffermans who don’t have a lot of cash for their operations, for their medicine, for their freedom,” Tambor said.
Kevin Spacey was named best drama actor for political thriller “House of Cards,” and British period drama “Downton Abbey” was named best drama ensemble.