Recently, awards shows have come under fire for a serious lack of diversity.
#OscarsSoWhite began trending for a second year in a row as soon as the Academy released its list of nominees, and countless conversations regarding the diversity problem in Hollywood were held. Some publicly shamed and criticized Hollywood for its lack of racial equality in regards to award nominees, while others blamed the real issue on the entire system, not just the awards shows.
Yet the SAG Awards finally seemed to take a step in the right direction. On Saturday, Jan. 30, the nominees were listed and the winners were called. Low and behold, black actors were winning a lot of awards and deservedly so.
Some of the night’s winners included Uzo Adubo for her role in Orange is the New Black, Idris Elba (who took home two trophies), Viola Davis for her badass performance in How to Get Away with Murder, and Queen Latifah for her TV movie, Bessie. Additionally, LGBTQ characters and storylines were awarded, including Jeffrey Tambor for his portrayal of the transgender character Maura Pfefferman in Transparent. All in all, diversity reigned at the SAG Awards — and the Internet recognized it, too.
While great strides were made to promote and applaud the incredible work done by minority actors, it did little to address other minorities and showed a larger lack of diversity outside of those two groups.
There were very few Latinos represented in the nominees; the only ones were basically in the cast of Orange is the New Black. As a matter of fact, from what we could tell from the red carpet and camera pans throughout the show, there were very few other ethnic groups at the show at all!
Notably present were Eva Longoria, Sofia Vergara, Rami Malek, Priyanka Chopra and Kunal Nayyar. But where was Gina Rodriguez? America Ferrera? Randall Park? Ken Jeong? Aziz Ansari? Mindy Kaling? Guillermo Díaz? And there are so many more!
Of course, the root of the problem boils down to access and opportunity, but the SAG Awards – which were highly-praised and celebrated for its diversity – were largely comprised of only black and white actors, which shows improvement but not enough.
According to a study conducted by doctors at the University of Southern California, Latinos buy 25 percent of all movie tickets, but there was only one movie released in 2015 that was Latino-centric (McFarland, USA). What’s worse? This same report found that of the top 100 grossing films, only 4.9 percent of speaking parts went to Hispanics. And these are only statistics from one minority group missing representation. Asians make up slightly less of the casting than Hispanics, coming in at 4.4 percent of the speaking roles. And it’s not that there aren’t enough people to fill roles: Latinos make up 17 percent of the U.S. population (that’s 54 million people) and Asians make up a little more than 4 percent of the population (14.7 million people), and these are just a few minority groups that are underrepresented.
So, it is truly commendable that the SAG Awards highlighted the fantastic performances of actors of color, but with that applause we must recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done to level the playing field for people of all backgrounds. We must take into account not just ethnicity, but gender and sexual orientation as well. We can’t allow OITNB to be the sole beacon of diversity in race, creed and sexual orientation wrapped up in one TV show.
Let’s take tonight as a victory for diversity, because Hollywood did make great strides. But diversity means equality and opportunity for everyone, so let’s also learn from the still-obvious lack of diversity and continue to move towards a truly multi-faceted Hollywood.