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SAG Awards: Diversity takes center stage

Idris Elba, Viola Davis acknowledge Oscar snubs

When it comes to predicting who will take home golden statues at the Oscars, the SAG Awards have always been considered one of the most important precursors.

Many of the members who are eligible to cast a ballot within SAG (Screen Actors Guild) are also voting members within the Academy.

This year, however, there were a few exceptions, after actors like Idris Elba took home an award for his work in Beasts of No Nationa film snubbed by the Academy during this year's Oscar nominations.

The SAG Awards have always been more inclusive than most award shows, but the list of diverse winners gained extra attention this year after the Academy was slammed by critics, audiences and industry members for failing to nominate one minority actor for this year's Oscars. The large outpouring of disappointment led to the Academy announcing they would be reforming their group immediately to try and fix problems within the organization.

"Diversity is not a trending topic."

For weeks, actors like Will Smith and directors like Spike Lee have announced their decision to boycott the award show ceremony, while host Chris Rock confirmed he was rewriting the entire show following the lack of nominations for black actors.

This led many to assume that the diverse winners at this year's SAG Awards were a result of the Academy's mistake. A point that was quickly shot down by Viola Davis, who won an award for her work in Shonda Rhimes' How To Get Away with Murder.

"We've become a society of trending topics," Davis said backstage. "Diversity is not a trending topic. I see myself as an actor, no matter what's going on in the business."

Davis added that actors of color don't place limitations on themselves, and regardless of whether or not the Academy decided to recognize their talent, they would always "find a way to be excellent."

The actress also echoed many of her colleagues in reiterating that the best way to support minority actors was to support the films they make and the filmmakers who create them.

"Plop down your money to see Race, to see Dope, to see Straight Outta Compton. Support directors like Ava DuVernay, Lee Daniels [and] Spike Lee," Davis said. "Their stories are just as important and valid as anyone else's."

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Although Idris Elba didn't bring up his work being snubbed by the Academy directly, the actor did take a second on stage to thank SAG for recognizing Beasts of No Nation as a whole. Elba called the movie incredibly important and said he was grateful the story was finally getting the attention it deserved.

Elba, a double winner that night, also took home an award for his work in the BBC drama, Luther. It's a role he's been nominated for time and time again at previous Emmy shows, but never actually won.

Of course, the show did keep in line with the Oscar nominations in a variety of categories, including the award for Best Picture. The top prize of the night, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, went to Spotlight.

Most interesting, however, was Leonardo DiCaprio taking home the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his work in The Revenant. Again, considering how important the SAG Awards are when it comes to predicting Oscar winners, this may be the year that DiCaprio finally gets some recognition by the Academy. The actor has been nominated for the award nine times in the past.

Brie Larson continued her winning streak, too, where she picked up the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for her work in Room.

The 88th annual Academy Awards will air on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. ET on ABC.