Nida Faraz looks at a clear discrepancy of Oscars won by African American actors
Since the creation of the Academy in 1929, more than 300 Oscars won by African American actors have been awarded to outstanding actors and actresses. Over the course of 93 years, 20 Oscars have been awarded to African-American or Black actors and actresses, with some of them winning twice. It’s a concerning balance that the Academy has been working to change for some time now. In fact, 13 of the 20 statuettes for Black actors were awarded in the past 20 years.
Will Smith, Best Actor in 2022
At the controversial Oscar ceremony of 2022, Will Smith took home a statuette for his leading role in ‘King Richard.’ He is one of the few African-American actors in the history of the Oscars to have won this prize.
Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah – 2021
He won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2021 for his role in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah.’ Daniel Kaluuya played Fred Hampton, the leader of the Black Panther movement who was killed in an FBI raid in 1969. When accepting his Oscar, the actor said that even today, there was still “work to do” for racial equality and justice.
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk – 2019
Regina King had won three Emmys (for ‘American Crime Story’ and ‘Seven Seconds’) when she crowned that hat-trick with her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ was directed by Barry Jenkins. The streak of Regina King continued, by the way, because in 2020 she won another Emmy for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in ‘Watchmen’
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight – 2017, and Green Book – 2019
Mahershala Ali was in 2017 the first Muslim actor to ever win an Oscar. He did so after also triumphing on television in ‘The 4400’ and ‘True Detective’. On the big screen, he earned two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor: first in ‘Moonlight’ in 2017 and then in Green Book in 2019. ‘Moonlight’, by the way, was also directed by Barry Jenkins, just like the movie that got Regina King her Oscar. ‘Green Book’, on the other hand, was directed by Peter Farrelly.
Viola Davis – Fences – 2017
For years, Viola Davis has been calling for equal opportunities in the film industry. Obviously, when she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, in a film directed by Denzel Washington, she took advantage of the acceptance speech to launch a monologue vindicating the talent of her African American colleagues.
Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland – 2007
Forest Whitaker had been a Hollywood icon for years, but with his memorable role in the TV series ‘The Shield’, his fame rose to an all-time high. The actor’s Oscar for ‘The Last King of Scotland’ was an example of the incredible quality he delivered. Just look at his rivals for the Best Actor Oscar: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling, Will Smith and Peter O’Toole. TW