Only 22 Oscars have been handed out to Black actors and actresses ever since the Academy Awards began in 1929. Hattie McDaniel was the first African American to win an Oscar, and the first Black actress to win Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Gone with the Wind” (1939).
Sidney Poitier became the first Black man to win Best Actor in 1963 for his role in “Lilies of the Field”. There have been multiple wins for Denzel Washington, Mahershala Ali and Anthony Quinn, with Halle Berry being the first, and so far only Black Best Actress following her role in “Monster’s Ball” (2001).
In January this year when the Oscars unveiled its 2023 nominees, only two Black performers received nominations: Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and Brian Tyree Henry for “Causeway” as James Aucoin.
Over the years, there have been concerns about the lineup of nominated actors and actresses as white actors continue to dominate the categories and Black actors remain relegated to the background. Analysts say major wins by Black performers like Regina King and Daniel Kaluuya may be bringing some changes. Amid the talks about diversity, here are all the Black actors and actresses who have won Oscars:
McDaniel became the first African American ever to win an Oscar for her role as an enslaved maid in the blockbuster movie “Gone with the Wind” (1939). McDaniel said at the time that winning the award was “one of the happiest moments of my life”. “I sincerely hope I will always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry, my heart is too full to tell you just how I feel.”
Poitier was the first Black actor to win Best Actor award for his performance as Horner Smith in the 1963 classic “Lillies of the Field”. Poitier also received a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 2002.
Louis Gossett Jr.
Gossett Jr. was the first Black actor to win a Best Supporting Actor award thanks to his role as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982). He was the third Black performer in history to win an Oscar.
Washington won his first Oscar for his role as Private Silas Tripp in “Glory” (1989). He won a Best Supporting Actor award.
Goldberg took home Best Supporting Actress thanks to her role as a psychic in the 1990 classic “Ghost”. She was the second Black actress to win an Oscar.