Lessons in diversity from the SAG awards

Lessons in diversity from the SAG awards

Another evening of glitz and glam, last night the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards rolled out the red carpet, welcoming the stars - and their political stances.

The spotlight illuminated issues prevalent in US politics, following President Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim countries entering the US for the next 90 days, and the suspension of refugee admission for 120 days.

Several of the winners used the platform to condemn current affairs, with David Harbour, an actor from the Netflix drama ‘Stranger Things’ speaking out: “It’s a call to arms from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper and through our art to battle against fear, self-centeredness and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture and through our craft to cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing intimate truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that, when they feel broken and afraid and tired, they are not alone.”

Diversity & Inclusion

The main thread weaving the actor’s acceptance speeches together was showing solidarity with those who have been singled out. In an emotional speech Mahershala Ali, who won the SAG Award for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Moonlight, proudly announced: “I’m a Muslim,” adding that his mother, an ordained Minister “didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted.” He says that they “put things to the side” and “we love each other.”

Recently we spoke to Joanna Abeyie, Founder & Managing Director at Hyden, SThree, who founded a recruitment agency to help diversify the media industry. Whilst representation at SAG was praised, with seven out of 13 gongs being awarded to black actors and diverse casts – the same cannot be said for other industries.

Abeyie told us how things are done at her firm: “We believe in change and therefore create real practical recruitment processes, and in some cases alternative recruitment processes that are measurable and lead to the engagement and recruitment of diverse talent. Additional support including coaching and unconscious bias training all help - but you'll see the real change if you just hire diverse talent and create an inclusive environment for them to develop.

“We've been talking about diversity in the creative sector for over forty years and we've certainly made progress, but some changes should be commonplace by now.”

Click next to see how the awards also shone light on equality...

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