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Screen Actors Guild awards highlight Hollywood's diversity

The Screen Actors Guild showcased Hollywood's ethnic diversity during its annual awards ceremony. It was a sharp contrast to the much-criticized, all-white nominees for this year's Oscars.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards showcased Hollywood's multiethnic talents Saturday night. The racial and gender diversity of winners and nominees was in sharp contrast to the upcoming Academy Awards, which have come under fire for failing to nominate a single actor of color for the second year in a row.

The actors guild cast a clear vote for diversity,

and the beneficiaries included Queen Latifah, Uzo Aduba, Viola Davis and Idris Elba, who won two awards.

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to diverse TV," said Elba in his third trip on stage as a presenter. His first two were to accept awards for his supporting performance in the Netflix child soldier drama "Beasts of No Nation" and for his lead performance in the BBC miniseries "Luther."

The night's top honor, Best Ensemble in a Film, went to the newspaper drama "Spotlight," which entered the ceremony as a definitive underdog.

The ensemble award essentially came down to "Spotlight" or Adam McKay's high finance tale "The Big Short," which last week won the Producers Guild's top award, and seemed set to collect the SAG award, too.

One "Spotlight" star, Mark Ruffalo said, "No way," upon hearing that the ensemble had taken top honors.

He credited the writer-director Tom McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer for their commitment to accuracy in recreating the journalistic process behind "The Boston Globe's" reporting on sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The two, he said, "took every single opportunity to tell the truth. They didn't take any cheap way. It was always the truth."

Hollywood in an uproar

Watch video 03:35

Oscars so white controversy

Hollywood has been in an uproar the past two weeks

since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this year's all-white Oscar nominees. The controversy seemed to cast a pall over attendees in Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium on Saturday night.

Accepting the most outstanding ensemble award, comedy series, for "Orange Is the New Black," co-star Laura Prepon gestured to the cast of the prison comedy standing behind her.

"Look at this stage," said Prepon. "This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity."

Last week the Academy announced sweeping changes to its 6,200 strong membership

, of which only 7 percent are people of color and 24 percent are women.

Members who haven't been active in decades

- mostly white, mostly male - will be stripped of their voting rights, according to the Academy's Chief Executive Dawn Hudson.

"It's not about political correctness, it's about building the best team, the best institution, the best artists," Hudson told "The Hollywood Reporter." "Unless you have the best artists voting on the Academy Awards, you don't have a real reflection of the best of our film culture."

bik/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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