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Diversity wins at SAG awards as Black actors and diverse casts take top honors

By Karen Mizoguchi,

The class of 2017 Screen Actors Guild Award recipients demonstrate the power of diversity and representation.

Out of the 13 awards presented at the 23rd annual televised show on Sunday, seven were awarded to individual winners and casts of color, with three African American stars garnering acting awards and the female-led cast of Hidden Figures nabbing the top honor of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali took home the Actor statuette for outstanding supporting actor, Denzel Washington, who directed and starred in Fences, snagged the best actor nod, and his costar Viola Davis won in the outstanding supporting actress category, making her the first black actress and the first woman of color to earn five overall wins.

Hidden Figures’ predominantly African American ensemble broke a major barrier, and leading lady Taraji P. Henson made it known in her acceptance speech.

“This film is about unity,” Henson said. “The shoulders of the women that we stand on are three American heroes: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. Without them, we would not know how to reach the stars.”

Adding, “This story is about what happens when we put our difference aside and we come together as a human race. They are hidden figures no more!”

Check out PEOPLE’s full 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards coverage and complete winners list!

And in the TV categories, female and multiethnic ensembles were standout winners.

“Mostly, we’d like to say that we stand up here representing a diverse group of people,” said Orange Is the New Black‘s Taylor Schilling in her acceptance speech on behalf of the cast for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series. “We know that it’s gonna be up to all of us and all of you to keep telling stories that show that what unites us is stronger than what divides us.”

Also throughout the night, many performers focused on President Donald Trump‘s refugee ban, which closes the nation’s borders for four months, prohibits any refugees from entering the U.S., indefinitely bans refugees who hail from Syria, and temporarily bans citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.


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