Ghanaian Teenager Abraham Attah & Idris Elba Win Best Actor & Best Supporting Actor At The 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards

Diversity took center stage at the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards, where three of the four acting awards went to actors of color.

On the eve of #OscarsSoWhite, diversity took center stage at the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, where three of the four acting awards tonight went to actors of color.


15-year-old Ghanaian newcomer Abraham Attah was awarded Best Male Lead for his portrayal of the child soldier Agu in Beasts Of No Nation—his first acting gig ever. Attah’s co-star, Idris Elba, was named Best Supporting Male. Beasts was also nominated for Best Feature as well as Best Director (Cary Fukunaga), though it lost to Oscar favorite Spotlight in both categories.

Mya Taylor made history as the first transgender Spirit Awards winner when she won Best Supporting Female for her turn in the iPhone-shot comedy-drama, Tangerine. Her co-star, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, was nominated for Best Female Lead, but lost out to Room’s Brie Larson.

"There is transgender talent. There's very beautiful transgender talent. So, you better get it out there and put it in your next movie,” Taylor said in her acceptance speech.

The migration drama Mediterranea–another of Okayafrica’s Top Films of 2015—featured prominently throughout the night. The film was nominated, though did not win, for Best Male Lead (Ghanaian actor Koudous Seihon), Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay (Italian filmmaker Jonas Carpignano).

Elba, who also won a Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance as the brutal Commandant, brought his teenage co-star up to accept the honor with him. He ended with an awesome nod to James Brown.

Elba also answered some questions in the press room. “I’m half Ghanaian, it was my first time in Ghana. It was incredible, it was like a homecoming for me,” he said on what it was like to shoot in Accra.

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