sag awards 2016

Viola Davis, Celebrating Her SAG Win, Recalls Her Long Battle for Recognition: ‘Diversity Is Not a Trending Topic’

Viola Davis took home her second SAG award in a row for her performance in How to Get Away With Murder last night, which many might call a trend toward better recognizing nonwhite actors in Hollywood, especially considering the debate over diversity that has come to dominate this awards season this year. But Davis, who spoke to reporters backstage after her win, was careful to emphasize that the push for diversity is a ongoing battle, which actors of color have been fighting, and will continue to fight, for years. “We have become a society of trending topics,” Davis said. “Diversity is not a trending topic. It’s just not. I’ve always considered myself an actor since I got my equity card in 1988. I’ve never put any limitations on myself. I felt like I can play Chekhov — any character in Chekhov — in Shakespeare, in Miller, in August Wilson.”

Davis went on to say that, despite the (very white) performances awards and studios might celebrate, actors of color will continue to do the powerful work they have put out before. “All of the actors of color that I know don’t place any limitations on themselves either. Regardless of what is going on with the Academy, regardless of what is going on in Hollywood, they will find a way to be excellent. We always have and we always will.”

Watch Davis’s backstage comments above and her acceptance speech below.

Viola Davis: ‘Diversity Is Not a Trending Topic’