Cable, streaming and Viola Davis star at the SAG Awards

AP News
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Posted: Jan 31, 2016 12:40 AM
Cable, streaming and Viola Davis star at the SAG Awards

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Television was praised as gutsy and bold as the Screen Actors Guild Awards honored shows that illuminate the lives of transgender parents and imprisoned women.

That's TV as in cable channels and streaming services, with commercial networks nearly shut out at Saturday's awards ceremony and forced to hear their competition lauded in ways that broadcasters rarely are these days.

"Thank you to Amazon for their guts and support," said Jeffrey Tambor, honored as best drama series actor for his transgender role in "Transparent."

"I play Maura Pfefferman. She's very entitled and she has a lot of money, and I would just like to dedicate this award to the non-Maura Pfeffermans that don't have a lot of cash for their operations, for their medicine, for their freedom," he added — a stand for advocacy built upon the series' foundation.

Netflix's "Orange is the New Black," about women's lives behind bars, won the SAG award for best ensemble in a comedy series and also saw Uzo Aduba honored as best comedy series actress.

Aduba thanked the streaming service's chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, for his "bravery" in backing the series and lauded creator Jenji Kohan for making a show "that reflects and represents so many people."

The show's diversity was noted as well by Laura Prepon, who accepted the ensemble trophy on behalf of her fellow cast members.

"Look at this stage. This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity: different race, color, creed, sexual orientation," Prepon said. "This wouldn't be possible without our fearless leader, Jenji Kohan. Thank you for never shying away from telling these incredible stories."

The sole shining network moment came with Viola Davis' win for best actress in a drama series, ABC's "How to Get Away with Murder."

"I always think, 'Why do I have to be a hero, why do you have to like me, and why do I have to be a mentor?'" Davis said, questioning those who wonder why her character is such a tough cookie. "My job as an actor is just to create a human being to the best of my ability."

Davis, who won an Emmy Award for the role last year, also was among the rare network winners at that ceremony. This month's Golden Globes also found only a couple of broadcast nominees worthy, making the SAG awards just another awards downer for networks.

"Downton Abbey," from broadcasting's noncommercial side, won the best TV drama ensemble award for the third time.

"We've been coming here for six years and we have encountered only the most amazing kindness and generosity from American actors," said Lesley Nicol, who plays Mrs. Patmore the cook in the PBS series that's in its final season.

Other SAG winners included Queen Latifah for HBO's "Bessie," about blues legend Bessie Smith; Idris Elba for the BBC America crime drama "Luther," and Kevin Spacey for Netflix's "House of Cards."

On the ceremony's movie side, Elba was honored for his supporting performance in "Beasts of No Nation," as the guild countered the all-white nominees slate for this year's Oscars.

Comedy legend Carol Burnett received a life achievement award, presented by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.