The 2016 SAG Awards were a celebration of diversity Saturday night, with Idris Elba scoring two awards, winning best supporting actor for Beasts of No Nation, as well as for male actor in TV movie-miniseries for BBC America’s Luther, Deadline reports. The ceremony was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, where Queen Latifah, Uzo Aduba and Viola Davis also took home nude, male statuettes.
Elba was overlooked by the Academy for his performance as the Commandent leading a group of young rebels in war-torn Ghana. The Cary Fukunaga-directed drama is based on the 2005 novel of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala. It won the Marcello Mastroianni Award during the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, and released on Netflix globally and in a limited release late last year.
“I want to tell you man, we made a film about real people and real lives,” Elba said in his acceptance speech. “To be awarded for it is very special, because a lot of people were damaged through that. So thank you for giving this film some respect and love.”
Elba has previously spoken about why he was drawn to the film, “What drew me to it was the perspective; seeing it from a child’s point of view,” said Mandela star Elba, a Londoner whose mother Eve was born in Ghana. “The whole concept of child soldiers – people know about it, but not in detail.”
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) January 31, 2016
The charity War Child estimates that there are around 250,000 children under 18 serving as soldiers worldwide. In 2007, retired soldier Lt. Gen. Dallaire launched The Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, which aims to stop the global recruitment and use of child soldiers. Dallaire “was commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) in 1994 – and his inability to secure UN intervention to stop the genocide which killed 800,000 people has haunted him ever since,” according to U.K. Telegraph.
Dallaire was invited to attend a Toronto Film Festival screening of Beasts of No Nation last year, and has since said the film fails to tell the full picture about child soldiers. “I think the film could have done more to show the indoctrination of the children, and the psychological battles. It needs to be more nuanced than just African kids with AK47s,” he said.
Elba co-produced the film, which was made on a $6 million budget, and earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA Award. The Londoner is best known for his portrayal as drug lord Russell “Stringer” Bell in the hit HBO series The Wire. In addition to his acting work, Idris is a soul singer and DJ under the moniker DJ Big Driis.
— TheWrap (@TheWrap) January 31, 2016
The #OscarsSoWhite controversy was certainly a hot topic during the SAG ceremony, with many actors spreading the call for diversity while celebrating the big wins of some of Hollywood’s most admired black talent. For the second year in a row, Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black won best comedy series, and breakout star Uzo Aduba won again for comedy actress in a supporting role. Queen Latifah won best female TV movie/miniseries actor for HBO’s Bessie. The sensational Viola Davis won her fourth SAG Award, taking home her second consecutive honor for her lead role in the ABC drama How to Get Away With Murder. She previously won two SAG awards for The Help.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to diverse TV,” Elba said on stage. While Orange’s Laura Prepon said “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity.”
Idris Elba will next appear in Zootopia, Star Trek Beyond, and The Jungle Book.
[Images courtesy Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Twitter]