On Sunday, the 28th Annual SAG Awards took place in Los Angeles and it feels like the first ceremony in Hollywood that is the launch of awards season. It used to be the Golden Globes, but we all know that they are in the middle of a makeover due to trash leadership.

Let’s get one thing out of the way. I have certain feelings about awards shows in Hollywood. I have a bittersweet relationships with them. On one hand, they champion hard work by everyone in the industry — both in front of and behind the camera. On the other hand, the major awards show that the industry actually puts weight on were created at a time when white, cisgender, hetero, able-bodied men were the standard. Actually, that is arguably still the standard as many of the old guard have a firm grip on the toxic past and continue to be unaware or address their blindspots of inclusivity. (Read more about my feelings about awards shows here.)

Last night’s SAG Awards saw many historical moments. For one, Ariana DeBose took home the award for outstanding supporting performance by a female actor for her role in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story — an accolade that is well-deserved. She was the only good part of that movie. In fact, she was the only reason why I managed to be invested in the remake. If she wasn’t in it, I don’t know what I would have done with myself.

Nonetheless, DeBose is the first Latina to win a trophy from SAG and is the first openly queer woman of color to win a SAG Award for acting. Watch her acceptance speech below.

Pop cultural survival game phenomenon Squid Game also made history with actors Lee Jung-Jae and Jung Ho-Yeon, winning trophies for outstanding performance by a male actor and outstanding performance by a female actor, respectively. Squid Game marked the first foreign language and first Korean TV show to win in the history of the SAG Awards. The series created by Hwang Dong-hyuk also scooped up outstanding action performance by a stunt ensemble in a comedy or drama series. I’m guessing Netflix is happy.

Grab your tissues and watch Jung Ho-Yeon’s speech below.

Apple TV+’s critically acclaimed  CODA, directed and written by Sian Heder scored a huge historic win for the deaf community as Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, acting legend Marlee Matlin as well as newcomer Emilia Jones won the evening’s top prize of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. To sweeten the deal, Kotsur also became the first deaf actor to win an individual SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.  Watch Kotsur’s moving acceptance speech below.

In addition to these landmark wins, Will Smith won his first SAG Award for his starring role in King Richard. In the 28 years of the SAG Awards, he is only the fifth Black man to win Outstanding Male Actor in a Supporting Role following  Sidney Poitier (Lilies in the Field), Denzel Washington (Training Day), Jamie Foxx (Ray), and Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland). Still have those tissues handy? Watch Smith’s speech below.

These wins have cleared the road for actors like Smith, DeBose, and Kotsur to score more trophies at awards ceremonies leading up to the Oscars on March 27. The wins for Lee and Jung continue Hollywood’s affection for envelope pushing stories like Squid Game. Specifically, it hones in on the industry’s love for Korean content. Last year, Youn Yuh-jung won for Minari while Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite won the SAG Award outstanding ensemble before going on to win the Oscar for Best Picture.

These wins are phenomenal and should be celebrated. I’m not here to steal the thunder of these fine artists, but I am here to question the future inclusion and preservation of historically underrepresented voices in the industry and in awards ceremonies that were established by the dominant culture for the dominant culture. As much as Hollywood has cracked the door open for people of color, disabled people, queer people and all of the other “othered”, awards institutions will never swing the door wide open for these communities — and that’s why there are and will continue to be so many “firsts”.

Each year since Hollywood realized how white it was, awards ceremonies seems to come through when it comes to awarding people from marginalized communities — and that’s great. They are creating change even if it is just babysteps. At the same time, it just feels like a check box. It feels “on trend”. It feels as if there are times that these award ceremonies say, “Hey, we haven’t awarded a [insert diverse group here] yet. Let’s make sure we do that.” This just doesn’t apply to these institutions itself. It applies to the whole entire cycle of Hollywood. From casting to agents to execs to what shows and films networks and studios decide to amplify to gatekeeping publicists to which journalists get access  — it is all a cycle that needs to be examined. It’s also a cycle that needs to include more underrepresented folks.

Sure, everyone in this business has a difficult time to break through and succeed. Well, except for rich white men. That aside, it still rings true that marginalized people have to work twice as hard to get half as far. When I heard DeBose say in her acceptance speech, “It has taken a long time for me to feel comfortable calling myself an actor”, it felt like a sentiment of imposter syndrome, a sentiment shared by many people in the industry. This award is a form of validation for her work by her peers — but is her imposter syndrome cured? If I were in her shoes, it would probably amplify it.

In Kotsur’s speech, he says he is grateful that Apple TV+ believed in deaf actors and made sure to cast authentically. This is fantastic and a great model for others to follow, but let’s be honest: this is the bare minimum of work that big studios and networks need to do.

These firsts are groundbreaking. According to a 2012 article written by Ira Kalb of Marshall School of Business, USC, as soon as you become the first at anything, you inherit a certain amount of power that does not translate to the second or third person. The further you go down the line, the more it becomes the norm.

Kalb says that in the marketing space being a “first-mover” has its advantages if “the company supports this position with effective advertising and marketing communications.” Let me repeat that: the “first-mover” can be a very advantageous position if the company supports this position with effective advertising and marketing communications. In other words, the support, fostering and amplification must continue beyond awards season — even when these “first-movers” aren’t at their best.

Now that is something we should unpack.

Yes, these wins by DeBose, Lee, Jung, and Kotsur will undoubtedly bring more opportunities others like them, but if they go on to win even more accolades — specifically for DeBose and Kotsur at the upcoming Oscars — there is a certain amount of pressure that their white, hetero and/or able-bodied counterparts won’t face: the need to deliver excellence at all times. This pressure is not only from the industry as a whole, but from their own communities.

I will give the benefit of the doubt to Hollywood, the landscape is changing — but it ain’t changing fast enough. Creators of color, queer creators and other underrepresented voices are still fighting for a seat at that table. Meanwhile, white mediocrity has been easily forgiven. From Johnny Depp to Max Landis to Brett Ratner to the garbage heap of Harvey Weinstein to Mel Gibson to even icons like Steven Spielberg and controversial cinephiles like Quentin Tarantino, white men not only move on from failure mostly unscathed but also move freely, take risks and thrive off congratulatory mediocrity. It pains me to say that no matter what, their careers will be fine forever.

Then you have talents like Ryan Coogler. Ever since Fruitvale Station, he has proven himself as a one of this generation’s most incredible filmmakers. He went on to do Creed and Black Panther, two very distinct Black narratives. Do you think those movies, despite how amazing they wre, would have received sequels if they were horribly reviewed or didn’t succeed at the box office?

You also have Gina Prince-Bythewood, who directed the iconic 2000 romantic drama Love & Basketball. She continued to direct TV series but 22 years later she is just now starting to get the love she deserves with films like Beyond the Lights, The Old Guard, and the forthcoming The Woman King. She should have been getting opportunities like her white counterparts many years ago.

We can even trace it back to Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl, a sitcom that debuted in 1994 that broke ground as t first prime time sitcom to feature an Asian American family. It was canceled after one season. It never really had the opportunity to breathe which makes me think that other shows with white leads get a little more flexibility. She talks about her experience in-depth during her 2000 comedy special I’m the One That I Want, based on her book by the same name.

With the exception of some the not-so-savory toxic men mentioned above, we see people like Spielberg trying their hardest to be “woke” and adapt to the changing landscape of Hollywood — but again, it feels like the bare minimum.

This is a nuanced conversation that could go on for days, months, and years but when it comes down to it, underrepresented voices in Hollywood suffer from scarcity in the grander scheme of things. When there is less of something we preserve it to the point where we try to duplicate it because we know it works. We take a seed of what already exists and plant another in hope it will be just as successful if not more. That’s how Hollywood handles underrepresented voices. They think they are all interchangeable when, in fact, there is even more diversity within diversity that is begging to be discovered. Unfortunately, Hollywood just likes to leech on to what works and suck it dry until they find a replacement.

As much as I love celebrating these firsts, Hollywood needs to really make some change to translate these “firsts” into the rest of the work happening in the industry. I’ve been saying it via headlines every single damn year nominations and winners come out during awards season. With every article about diversity and inclusion, it always is punctuated by the phrase, “much more work needs to be done” — and work always  needs to be done. Translate these firsts into finding more Latinx and deaf actors and not making DeBose and Kotsur the end all. Find more ambitious stories like Squid Game with actors like Lee and Jung to help us feel connected to the world and challenges our perception of storytelling. Choose things that move us forward rather than keep us stagnant.

When it comes to DeBose, Lee, Jung, Kotsur, and all future awards show winners from marginalized communities — let’s continue to put shine on them. Let’s let them thrive and enjoy the spotlight. At the same time, grant them grace to stumble or fail like a mediocre white man. I’m not saying they will, but even the greatest icons (with the exception of Beyonce) have their rough days. When it comes down to it, they will deliver their best art when you are not pressuring them.

And instead of execs and studios sculpting marginalized actors into being the next DeBose or make a series that is the next Squid Game or creating new film focusing on the deaf community like CODA, do the work and you will soon find there is an abundance of original stories within underrepresented stories. It’s been said once and will be said a million more times: marginalized communities are not monoliths. They are a treasure trove of interesting, diverse stories that Hollywood has ignored for decades.