Idris Elba won twice at the SAG Awards on Saturday, first for his performance in Beasts Of No Nation and then for his performance in Luther. He was also nominated, alongside his Beasts Of No Nation co-star Abraham Attah, for Best Ensemble. And while they were presenting the film together, Idris opened with the statement: “Welcome to diverse TV”.
At that point in the night, we’d already seen the women of Orange Is The New Black collect their awards, and Queen Latifah too, but beyond the winners, we’d also seen the range of nominees. In almost every television category, there were minority nominees, sometimes multiple. Which made the major film acting categories that much more notable in their lack of representation.
And it definitely highlighted the difference between what the Oscars have chosen to honour – and not honour. Remember, the Screen Actors Guild just named Idris Elba Best Supporting Actor. And the Academy didn’t even bother to nominate him, making the case, yet again, that television is far ahead of film in its approach to equality of narrative. Not there yet, but you can see the attempt. Add to that the fact that Nate Parker’s The Birth Of A Nation just won two top Sundance prizes on the weekend and, well, even though the Academy announced sweeping modifications last week, those changes won’t begin to have an impact for a while, so they still don’t look like the leaders they want to believe they are. Which means they’ll be even more compelled to highlight their new “look” on February 28th, leading with Chris Rock.
As for Idris, he was accompanied by his daughter at the event on Saturday and can double fist a trophy any time. By the way, you’ll note he gave a shout-out to Cary Fukunaga during his acceptance speech for Beasts. And yet… I’m having a very hard time finding photos of Cary Fukunaga. So it’s not just the Academy that has to f-cking get with it.