History was made during Sunday night's virtual Screen Actors Guild Awards as four actors of color, for the first time, swept all four major individual film awards.
The late Chadwick Boseman won best male actor for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and Viola Davis took home the best female actor award for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.” Best female supporting actor went to Yuh-Jung Youn for “Minari” and Daniel Kaluuya won best male supporting actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
Of those, Davis' win was the most surprising in a category that has often belonged to Carey Mulligan ("Promising Young Woman") or Frances McDormand ("Nomadland"). It's Davis' fifth individual SAG award.
“Thank you, August, for leaving a legacy for actors of color that we can relish the rest of our lives,” said Davis, referring to playwright August Wilson.
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Sunday's shortened one-hour show was pre-recorded. In her pre-taped acceptance speech, Youn, who is also the first Asian winner in any individual SAG motion picture category teared up as she delivered an emotional virtual acceptance speech.
"I don't know how to describe my feelings. I'm being recognized by Westerners,” the 73-year-old Korean actress said. “I'm just very, very honored, especially [that my] actor fellows chose me as a supporting actress.”
While Youn has been celebrated in South Korea for decades, "Minari" is her breakthrough role in the U.S. The movie follows a Korean immigrant family building a new life for themselves in Arkansas. Youn had already made history by becoming the first South Korean actress nominated in Oscar's Best Supporting Actress category.
As it has throughout the awards season, best male actor again belonged to Boseman for his final performance. Boseman, who died last August at age 43, had already set a record for most SAG film nominations — four — in a single year. He was also posthumously nominated for his supporting role in “Da 5 Bloods” and shared in the ensemble nominations for both Spike Lee’s film and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
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It was the SAG Awards where Boseman gave one of his most memorable speeches. At the guild’s 2019 awards, Boseman spoke on behalf of the “Black Panther” cast when the film won the top award. “We all know what it’s like to be told that there is not a place for you to be featured,” Boseman said then. “Yet you are young, gifted and Black.”
Kaluuya, who hosted "Saturday Night Live" a day before winning the best supporting actor award, dedicated his award to his "Black Panther" costar and fellow nominee Boseman.
The SAG Awards are a closely watched Oscar harbinger. Actors make up the largest branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and SAG winners often line up with Oscar ones. The wins by four minority actors in those categories could potentially set the stage for a historically diverse slate of Oscar winners.