Black History encapsulates more than a month. This new daily series will take a look at some lesser known events and people in the world.
The Oscars are looming. With a whole hubub last year regarding diversity at the awards, the Academy has seemingly “fixed” the problem. They brought in 683 new members including actors like Idris Elba, Rachel McAdams, Eva Mendes, Tessa Thompson, Damon Wayans Jr. and many, many more actors, directors, editors among other industry professions. This move was intentional too; just look at the numbers. 46% of the new class is female and 41% is made up of people of color.
Over the years, while it’s very much true that whites dominated the esteemed award show, there are a variety black winners and nominees. Sidney Poitier set a lot of milestones in 1958 and 1963. He was the first black person to be nominated for (and 6 years later, win) Best Actor; the first black male to win the Oscar; the first to receive two nominations; and the youngest to win Best Actor. Denzel Washington and Halle Berry both set a record with their wins in 2001 with Best Actor and Best Actress respectively making it the first time two black people won in the same year. The win also made Berry the first black actress to win Best Actress. She would later win an Emmy for her role as Dorothy Dandridge (who was the first black person to be nominated for Best Actress) in an HBO movie.
Behind the camera, John Singleton was the first black director to be nominated for Best Director for his work on Boyz n the Hood as well as the youngest person ever to be nominated. T.J. Martin won best Documentary Feature in 2012 for his documentary making skills. Prince was the first to win for Best Original Song Score for Purple Rain.
While people of color have been hardly represented at the show, the Oscars did provide a platform for the race’s cinematic work to be noticed. Let’s hope the platform only grows exponentially from here.