The Oscar has been accused of giving priority to white actors when nominating and awarding. Only 16 performers have earned the statuette in more than nine decades of the history of the award from the Hollywood Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. At a time when the racial theme once again ignites the American territory, this work aims to take a look at the interpreters of color who have managed to get hold of the coveted golden figure in the shape of a man.
Hattie McDaniel’s name (Wichita, Kansas, 1895 – Woodland Hills, California, 1952) is almost forgotten today, but this woman made history when the Oscar was only 12 years old. McDaniel became the first black person to win an Oscar for his portrayal of Mammy in the legendary film “Gone With the Wind” (Gone With the Wind, Victor Fleming, 1939).
And he did so at a time when racial segregation prevented him from sitting next to the other nominees or taking photos with the other members of the film’s team. In fact, it was thanks to David O. Selznick, the powerful producer of the aforementioned film starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, that he made the exception of inviting her. The daughter of freed slaves, McDaniel, who was the third to receive the Best Supporting Actress award, included in the 1936 Academy Award, sat at a small table in the back of the room at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. , away from the movie stars.
Hattie McDaniel’s speech on receiving the award:
“Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, members of the film industry and guests of honor – this is one of the happiest moments of my life and I want to thank each of you who participated in selecting me for one of your awards for your kindness. It has made me feel very, very humble; and I will always hold it as a beacon for anything I may do in the future. I sincerely hope to always be a credit to my career and to the film industry. My heart is too full to tell you how I feel, and I can thank you and God bless you. “
But contrary to what one might think, that after this milestone the Academy continued to take into account other interpreters of color, it would take almost 25 years for the Oscar to return to be in the hands of another black. That would be Sidney Poitier (Miami, 1927), who in 1963 won the Best Actor award, for “Lilies of the Field” (Lilies of the Field, Ralph Nelson).
With Poitier in this category is only Denzel Washington (New York, 1954), who in 2001 obtained it for his work on “Training Day” (Training Day, Antoine Fuqua), the same year in which Halle Berry (Cleveland, 1966) she became the only interpreter of color to win the Best Actress award for “Monster’s Ball” by Marc Foster. Three years later, Jamie Foxx (Terrell, Texas, 1967) earned the trio, along with Poitier and Washington, of the blacks who have won the Best Actor award, for Taylor Hackford’s “Ray.”
But the Academy is a conservative institution, which is a reflection of the country in which it is produced, and in which it is not only to people of color that it grants little or no presence in its nominees. There are also women. An example of this is the treatment given to female filmmakers, a group of which only Kathryn Bigellow has won the Best Director award in its entire history.
And despite the fact that in recent years there has been a timid opening to these two sectors, in which there are heavyweights of acting such as the aforementioned Denzel Washington or Viola Davis, in 2016 there was a boycott of the awards by A good number of colored stars after the nominees were announced and that there were no black interpreters in these. Many people at the time used the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite (Oscars so white) as a way to show discontent on social media.
List of actors and actresses of color who have won the Oscar in the main and cast categories..
Best supporting actress for “Gone with the Wind” in 1940.
Best Actor for “The Lilies of the Valley” in 1964.
Louis Gossett Jr.
The first to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1983 for his role as Sergeant Emil Foley in “Challenge to Destiny” (An Officer and a Gentleman, Taylor Hackford).
Best Actor for his role in “Training Day” in 2001. In 1990 he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and with eight nominations, he is the most nominated black actor in history.
Best Supporting Actress for “The Shadow of Love” (Ghost, Jerry Zucker, 1991).
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Best Supporting Actor for Cameron Crowe’s “Jerry Maguire” in 1997.
The only one to have won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Marc Foster’s “Monster’s Ball” in 2001.
Best Actor for “Ray” by Taylor Hackford in 2005.
Best Supporting Actor in 2005 for Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby”.
Best Supporting Actor for “The Last King of Scotland” (Kevin Macdonald) in 2006.
Best Supporting Actress for “Dreamgirls” by Bill Condom in 2007.
Best supporting actress for “Precious” by Lee Daniels in 2010.
Best Supporting Actress for Tate Taylor’s “The Help” in 2011.
Best Supporting Actress for Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” in 2014.
Best Supporting Actress for Denzel Washington’s “Fences” in 2017.
Best supporting actor for Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” in 2017 and in the same row for Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” from .2019.
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