Hollywood has made some big strides towards being more diverse this year, largely in response to the #OscarsSoWhite debacle of last year. Several films this year showcased the incredible talents of African Americans. The 2017 SAG awards recognized this talent and several Black actors and films focussed on the African-American experience ended the night with big wins. Among the winners were Denzel Washington, Mahershala Ali, and Viola Davis. The film Hidden Figures also came out on top.
Hidden Figures won Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture. The biopic about female African-American mathematicians who worked for NASA in the 1960s starred Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae. All three women shone in the inspiring film. In her acceptance speech on behalf of the cast, Henson said, “These women are hidden figures NO MORE.” Hopefully, the film’s success will help to ensure that African-American talent in Hollywood will no longer be hidden either. The film has already topped $100 million at the box office.
Denzel Washington won Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in Fences. It was his first ever SAG award and he described his reaction to the win to be one of surprise. Mahershala Ali won Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his incredible performance in Moonlight. Ali’s turn as Juan was moving and his SAG acceptance speech was similarly emotional. He used his time to talk about acceptance and love.
Viola Davis won Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for her performance in Fences. She made history yet again with this SAG win, becoming the first African-American woman to win five SAG awards, having won previously for The Help and How to Get Away With Murder. Even before she won, she was getting buzz from her glamorous red carpet look with her stunning white gown. The classic look was finished off with a fabulous necklace. Many are optimistic that some of these same names will be winning at the Oscars later this year. Historically, the SAG awards have been a good predictor for the Oscars. According to Refinery 29, this is most likely because there is “a pretty good chance of crossover between voting members of the SAG and the Academy.” We certainly hope this holds true this year, as this kind of sweeping recognition of African-American talent is long overdue.