In what could be a subtle nod to the blatant snub of ‘Selma’ at the Academy Award nominations, there was a moment when diversity became the topic of the night at the SAG awards after one actress brought it front and center with her powerful acceptance speech.
Viola Davis won the award for Best Female Actor in a Drama Series. In her speech she thanked Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, the producing team who are responsible for literally changing the face, race and gender identity of prime time television with shows such as ‘Greys Anatomy’, ‘Private Practice’ and ‘Scandal’.
She took the time, through teary eyes and a shaky voice, to speak about the power of representation in her own life. She spoke about how her daughter is starting to recognize the value of being able to identify personally with a character in a story, and why being cast as a lead character in a drama as a black, older woman allows that to happen.
It was probably the most newsworthy point of the ceremony, which of course crowned ‘Birdman’ big winners in many categories.
Another significant win was for everyone’s fave jailbait show ‘Orange is the New Black’. Cast member Uzo Aduba won the award individually for Outstanding Female Actor in a Comedy for her role as Crazy Eyes on the cult show, and she too was just as blown away, explaining that she had literally made the decision to give up acting the same day she won her now-iconic role.
We love that she won not just because she is a freaking rad actress, but she firmly acknowledges her position as a role model to so many other girls out there in the world who are told they look unconventional or don’t feel beautiful according to the “standards” out there.
As for the show as a whole, they won the award for Best Comedy Ensemble category, ending ‘Modern Family’s run (5 years in a row!). What the win signifies is that audiences not only love OITNB, but they love the diversity it represents. It is a show written by a woman (the real life Piper Chapman) executive produced by a woman (the amazing Jenji Kohan) and features an array of female characters of all races, ages, body types and sexual orientation. We should also give props to the talented men on the show because they too make up part of the collective magic we all love (pornstache anyone?).
Even ‘Modern Family’s’ 5 year streak proves the old mold of character representation is changing, and people are loving it. The portrayal of an unconventional family is actually a closer model of what you see in the real world, which goes back to Viola Davis’ acceptance speech about her young daughter wanting to see the same thing.
Our ability to identify with others starts young. We begin to form our opinions and identities from a very young age, and because the media is such a heavy presence in all of our lives’, it is a very powerful thing to see diversity being given top billing on many TV shows.
The 2015 awards season is not over yet, but so far the Golden Globes and now the SAG awards have certainly been high points for us. Here’s to more diverse representation being the “new black” (pun FULLY intended) in media and entertainment going forward!