SAG Awards: Viola Davis, ‘Orange is the New Black’ Show Racial Diversity Matters

By Jamilah King Jan 26, 2015

Racial diversity may be missing from this year’s Oscars, but it was on full display during the television portion of the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Viola Davis won the award for outstanding female actor in a drama for her lead role in "How to Get Away With Murder." In her acceptance speech, Davis called out Hollywood’s lack of diversity:

"When I tell my daughter stories at night, inevitably, a few things happen," Davis said while accepting the award. "Number one, I use my imagination. I always start with life, and then I build from there. And then the other thing that happens is she always says, ‘Mommy, can you put me in the story?’ And you know, it starts from the top up."

"Thank you Shonda Rhimes, [producer] Betsy Beers and [creator] Peter Nowalk for thinking of a leading lady who looks like my ‘classic beauty,’" she said, referring to Stanley’s assertion that Davis was "less classically beautiful" than Halle Berry or Kerry Washington. "I’m so proud to be an actor and so happy to do what I do. And I’m so happy that people have accepted me in this role at this stage in my career."

Watch her full speech here:

Backstage, Davis expounded on her point about racial diversity: "We want to see ourselves. We want to be inspired by that. I sometimes want the fantasy, but more often than not, I want reality. I want to feel less alone when I look at TV."

But the big surprise of the night was Uzo Aduba’s win for outstanding female actor in a comedy in her role as Crazy Eyes in Netflix’s "Orange is the New Black." The show also won the award for best comedy ensemble, ending a long streak of wins in that category by "Modern Family."

In her speech, Aduba thanked Jengi Kohan "for writing a show like this and putting something like this on television. Not just for myself, but for our incredible team of actors to be seen in such a beautiful way." She also revealed that the days he got the "Orange is the New Black" job was the day she had stopped acting. Watch the full speech below:

(Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/ Getty Images)

That "incredible team of actors" includes Laverne Cox, who pretty much won the unofficial award for best on-stage entrance when she went up to present the award to Viola Davis with co-star Matt McGorry and did this:

lavernecox_012615.jpgOther big awards of then night went to "Birdman," which won the award for outstanding cast in a motion picture and "Still Alice’s" Julianne Moore, who won the award for best actress in a movie.