The SAG Awards Can Teach the Oscars a Thing or Two About Diversity

Maybe the 2016 Screen Actors Guild Awards will mete out some justice in Hollywood just yet.

Actor Jason Mitchell arrives for the Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures premiere of Straight Outta Compton on Aug. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Actor Jason Mitchell arrives for the Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures premiere of Straight Outta Compton on Aug. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images

A slew of black actors, TV shows and films including Straight Outta Compton and Beasts of No Nation are up to be honored at tonight’s SAG Awards.

Unlike the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has a significant diversity problem and has faced significant backlash in recent weeks (see #OscarsSoWhite … again), all actors who are part of the Screen Actors Guild nominate and vote on the awards.

The actors of Straight Outta Compton and Beasts of No Nation are nominated for best film cast this year, already a significant feat in comparison with the lily-white Oscar noms. 

Compton, a biopic directed by F. Gary Gray about seminal rap group N.W.A, includes O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller, Neil Brown Jr. as DJ Yella and Aldis Hodge as MC Ren.

Beasts, starring Idris Elba as Commandant, Abraham Attah as Agu and Kurt Egyiawan as second-in-command, is about a child soldier torn away from his family in a West African village and forced to fight in a war with rebels.

Ironically, just this week, the cast of Straight Outta Compton was not even invited to attend this year’s Oscar ceremony. 

This comes on the heels of a well-publicized boycott of the Oscars started by actress Jada Pinkett Smith and supported by her husband, Will Smith, and director Spike Lee. 

Other actors of color nominated for a SAG Award include Queen Latifah for Bessie, Idris Elba for Luther and Beasts of No Nation, Uzo Aduba for Orange Is the New Black, Viola Davis for How to Get Away With Murder and Rami Malek for Mr. Robot; the show Key & Peele is nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.

The 2016 SAG Awards air Saturday at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST on TNT and TBS.

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