Two awards for Idris Elba as SAG celebrate diversity

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idris-elba-sag-awards-two.jpgWhile the Academy Awards is in the grips of a race row crisis, the Screen Actors Guild proved to be a clear celebration of diversity on Saturday.

The winners list, unveil ed at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, was a stark antidote to the controversy that has overwhelmed Hollywood's awards season and the #OscarsSoWhite backlash.

There was a double win for British star Idris Elba, who won Best Supporting Actor for Beasts Of No Nation, about child soldiers in Africa, and Best Actor in a TV Miniseries for Luther.

Elba, in fact, succinctly summed up what was happening when he took the stage for a third time, as a presenter, and said: 'Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to diverse TV!'

It followed not only his wins but those by the cast of the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series and for its star Uzo Aduba for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.

There were also wins for Viola Davis won for her performance in the TV series How To Get Away With Murder and Queen Latifah for her performance in HBO's Bessie.

What made the night's events so interesting was the fact that members of SAG were casting their votes right up until the end of the day on Friday.

That meant that the 160,000 guild members were making their decisions as the lack of diversity row over the Academy Awards was in high gear and talks of a boycott were being bandied about.

And since actors make up the largest voting bloc in the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, it's interesting to see them voting firmly in favor of diversity on big and small screens.

Elba, who first made his name in the gritty drama series The Wire, was a surprise winner despite the critical acclaim he has received for his performance in Beasts Of No Nation and as a tormented detective in Luther.

'I remember getting my SAG card from Law & Order 20 odd years ago,' the actor said as he excitedly collected his first award of the night for Beasts Of No Nation.

'We made a film about real people and real lives, you know, and to be rewarded for it is very special. Thank you for giving this film some light, respect, love.'

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Viola Davis won her first SAG Award in 2012 for her supporting role in the movie The Help and on saturday night she picked up another one, this time for her work on the small screen.

Davis stars as criminal defense professor Annalise Keating in the popular ABC series How To Get Away With Murder.

She said in her speech that her job as an actor is to 'create a human being' and she does her job to the best of her ability.

Netflix series Orange Is The New Black picked up the award for Outstanding Comedy Ensemble while star Uzo Aduba was honored with the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series trophy.

As the OITNB cast took the stage to collect their Actor, as the SAG trophy is known, actress Laura Prepon addressed the audience.

'Look at this stage. This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity,' she said.

Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig presented the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, to OITNB's Uzo Aduba.

'Oh my gosh,' she said as she collected the award. 'It's truly touching,' she said before adding that the show features characters that represent 'so many people.'

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Queen Latifah picked up the award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a TV Movie or Miniseries for Bessie.The film that aired on HBO was a labor of love for the rapper and TV personality who spent 20 years trying to bring the story of the celebrated Blues singer to the screen.

'I am in shock right now,' Latifah said. 'I'm really just very grateful.'

She spoke in her acceptance speech about how her mom and dad had told her she could be whoever she wanted to be and she urged others not to be pigeon-holed or settle for less than who they are.

'I hope that anyone out there who does not come in the package that people say you should, keep fighting for it,' said Latifah.

'Flip those rocks over. Keep pushing, keep turning. You can do it. You build your own boxes, not people. So knock that thing away and do you!'

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It was a good night for Leonardo DiCaprio who finally took home his first SAG Award for The Revenant.

He seemed to be a popular winner with the audience applauding and cheering when his name was announced by presenter Julianne Moore.

He was immediately on the receiving end of a huge hug and embrace for his Titanic co-star Kate Winslet who has been championing his cause all awards season.

DiCaprio, 41, is now the clear frontrunner for the Best Actor Academy Award - a recognition that has eluded him time after time in his more than 20-year career in Hollywood.

Individual actor SAG winners the last three years have exactly corresponded with eventual Oscar winners.

In collecting his award, the hearthrob star had some advice for those aspiring to join the profession.

'For any young actors out there, I encourage you to watch the history of cinema,' he said. 'As the history of cinema unfolds, you realize that we all stand on the shoulders of giants.'

The actor described the sexual abuse of children by priests as 'one of the most horrific things that our culture has allowed to happen' and dedicated the award to the victims and survivors.

'This movie allows them to be seen in the world in a world that has been blind to them,' he said.

Ruffalo's co-star Michael Keaton said that for him personally, the award 'is really for the disenfranchised everywhere.'

'This is for every Flint, Michigan, in the world. This is for the powerless,' Keaton said.

'It comes down to two things: There's fair and there's unfair, and I am always going to vote for the fair. I'm always going to vote for the good guys.'

The actor described the sexual abuse of children by priests as 'one of the most horrific things that our culture has allowed to happen' and dedicated the award to the victims and survivors.

'This movie allows them to be seen in the world in a world that has been blind to them,' he said.

Ruffalo's co-star Michael Keaton said that for him personally, the award 'is really for the disenfranchised everywhere.'

'This is for every Flint, Michigan, in the world. This is for the powerless,' Keaton said.

'It comes down to two things: There's fair and there's unfair, and I am always going to vote for the fair. I'm always going to vote for the good guys.'

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