• Monday, Oct. 18, 2021
SAG-AFTRA American Scene Award winners:  Mickey Guyton, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” ABC News’ 20/20 Breonna Taylor special
LaKeith Stanfield, foreground, and Daniel Kaluuya in a scene from “Judas and the Black Messiah.” (photo by Glen Wilson/courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment)
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SAG-AFTRA has unveiled the recipients for the fifth biennial SAG-AFTRA American Scene Awards, honoring producers who realistically portray the American Scene by employing union talent from misrepresented or underrepresented groups. This year’s winners are:

  • Music & Sound Recordings Award: Capitol Records Nashville for Mickey Guyton’s Black Like Me
  • Belva Davis News & Broadcast Award: 20/20 by ABC News and The Courier Journal in Louisville for Say Her Name: Breonna Taylor
  • Entertainment Award: Warner Bros. Pictures for Judas and the Black Messiah

Winners were selected for work that exemplifies equal access and full inclusion of diverse backgrounds, people with disabilities, women, seniors and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender as well as other misrepresented or underrepresented groups. Moreover, the American Scene Awards recognize diverse employment in three main contract categories covered by the union: Entertainment, Music & Sound Recordings, and News & Broadcast.

This year’s call for nominations included major networks and labels, cable and streaming series, independent and studio feature films, public television and radio. The American Scene Awards are the only awards given out by SAG-AFTRA that recognize employers that value diversity in all its forms.

“How can we put an end to racism, sexism, ageism and other forms of discrimination if we don’t celebrate the diverse beauty that is the human experience?” said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. “Seeing stories told about people historically marginalized with realistic, respectful representation not only builds self-esteem among those who can identify but normalizes the real fabric of the world for all its threads of common denominators to those unexposed to anything but stereotypes. The American Scene Awards is a step in the right direction towards realizing a time and place where we see all human beings sharing one boat. Congratulations to this year’s winners!”

Said Jason George, chair of the SAG-AFTRA Diversity Advisory Committee, “I have long thought of these as the American Seen Awards. As in, what can we do to recognize those producers and projects that really see all of us — and see those of us who are so often unseen. Since we last held these awards in October of 2019, so much has changed in this country and around the world. And much of that change has hinged on the stories being told. All of the stories being honored today are true and authentic stories that have made an immeasurable impact and will continue to shape how we see each other in the future. Being a part of raising up the people behind these stories is the thing I am most proud of as a union member.”

“Our nominees come from all corners of our diverse membership, and the winners truly are standard-bearers for their respective communities and industries,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. “Because of that remarkable excellence, our members had incredibly difficult decisions to make in arriving at these final selections. These projects demonstrate, once again, that audiences are hungry for stories about communities that have been historically invisible but that represent such crucial elements of the American scene.”

The recipients said they were proud to be selected. 

“When I wrote Black Like Me, I didn’t know if anyone would ever hear it. It was just me writing my truth. To now have it be recognized with an American Scene Award is such an honor,” said SAG-AFTRA member Mickey Guyton. “I firmly believe that if you see it, you can be it, so receiving honors such as this one, I hope inspires more young women who look like me to pursue their dreams, live their truth and be their true selves.”

“It’s such an honor to win this award with our friend Mickey Guyton,” added Nathan Chapman and Forest Whitehead, producers of the song. “Thank you to everyone at SAG-AFTRA for recognizing the impact this song has had. We are grateful we were the producers that captured the heart and soul of Mickey’s voice and amplified the message in her story.”

“It is an honor to be recognized by SAG-AFTRA for the hard work our entire news division put into Say Her Name: Breonna Taylor,” said Janice Johnston, executive producer of ABC News’ 20/20. “We took seriously the weight of our ability to shine a light on Breonna Taylor’s story and bring it to our audience. I am incredibly proud of the diversity of voices both in front and behind the camera who worked around the clock to make this critical program come to life.”

“I want to thank SAG-AFTRA for this incredible honor. I’m still in shock that I got to make this movie. I’m just overjoyed about the response to it and that folks really connected to it,” said Shaka King, director, co-producer, and co-writer of Judas and the Black Messiah.

The American Scene Awards are overseen by SAG-AFTRA’s Diversity Advisory and Honors and Tributes committees. The awards will be presented on Sunday, Oct. 17, as part of SAG-AFTRA’s biennial convention. The American Scene Awards presentation will be hosted by Yvette Nicole Brown and Ken Jeong.

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