*For the first time in history, the top TV drama and comedy acting titles at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards went to African American actresses.
Viola Davis won the outstanding lead drama actress prize for her role in “How to Get Away With Murder,” while Uzo Aduba of “Orange is the New Black” picked up the award for outstanding comedy actress.
Davis is just the third actress of color to win her category.
Sandra Oh of “Grey’s Anatomy” won the award in 2005, followed by Chandra Wilson in 2006, for the same show. Those two victories — along with Davis’ — were all for series produced by Shonda Rhimes.
“Ugly Betty’s” America Ferrera won for lead actress in a comedy series in 2006, and was the first Latina to score the prize.
The SAG Awards suggest that Hollywood is moving in the right direction — especially after not one actor of color was nominated for the upcoming Academy Awards — but Davis tells Variety that there is still much progress to be made.
“It starts with the casting. It starts with the narratives. The narratives have got to be inclusive,” Davis said on the red carpet, moments before her big win. “We’re in the 21st century now. People are multicultural now. We know more now about the world and what the world looks like, and it’s got to be reflected in the scripts.”
As for being recognized by her peers, Davis added, “The acknowledgement of your work is great. You always want to feel like you’re affecting people and it’s great that you’re affecting just the masses, but to affect people who really know the process, too, it’s why we do what we do.”