Oscar, a racial issue (since 1929)
The Oscar nominations are not a multi-ethnic society. The scandal exploded in 2016 but, retracing the history of the Academy and doing the math, the question seems rooted
The boycott of the Oscar night by Spike Lee (who was to receive an Academy Honorary Award), Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith and Tyrese Gibson for the lack of representing color in the list of nominations pushes to reflect. The Academy, after the fuss that was raised, ran for cover announced plans to change the rules (for example increasing the number of members “black” and of different ethnicities) and calling to attend the ceremony on 28 February, the musician and producer Quincy Jones, who will participate, however, only if he is given the chance to hold a five-minute speech on diversity. We’ll see what will happen and especially those who will participate.
Meanwhile, here is a selection of actors, producers, directors, musicians and technicians of color that have won the Oscar.
Sydney Poitier (Lilies of the Field)
It ‘a bit’ the standard-bearer of African American actors. In fact it was the first black actor to win an Oscar for his portrayal of Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field. It was 1964. In 2002 he received an Oscar for lifetime achievement.
Denzel Washington (Training Day)
It was the second black performer to win the statuette in the category “Best Actor” for the film Training Day (2001). The actor was not new to the premium, he had already received in 1990 as “Best Supporting Actor” for Glory – Glory Boys.
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
Quincy Jones as part of the production was to be appointed the first time in 1986 for Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple. A win in the category, however, the first was Steve McQueen in 2014 (also nominated for Best Director) for 12 Years a Slave.
Irene Cara (Flashdance)
In 1984 Irene Cara was the first African American woman to win an Oscar in a category that would go beyond the recitation. Who does not remember his song Flashdance … What a Feelig? The following year, she touched in with the legendary Stevie Wonder I Just Call To Say I Love You, inserted in the film The Woman in Red. Recently (2015) the rapper Common and John Legend won for the wonderful Glory. The film was Selma – The road to freedom.
Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball)
2002 was a historic year for black actors. In addition to Denzel Washington he won an Oscar also connects Halle Berry for his performance in Monster’s Ball, while Will Smith was defeated by Washington despite its good performance in Michael Mann’s Ali. Halle Barry even today remains the only black actress to receive the statuette in the category “Best Actress”.
Hattie McDaniel (Gone with the Wind)
Women outnumber men in the “non-actors”: 6 to 4. Hattie McDaniel became the first black to win an Oscar. Remember Mami Gone with the Wind (1939)? Unforgettable. They followed Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost in 1991, Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls in 2007, Mo’Nique for Precious in 2010, Octavia Spencer for The Help Lupita Nyong’o in 2012 and for 12 years a slave in 2014.
Russel Williams (Dances with Wolves)
He won two Oscars for mixing the sound. One in 1990 for Glory – Men Edward Zwick’s Glory, the other in 1991 for Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner. But the first black man to win the statuette in the category was Willie D. Burton for Bird Clint Easwood. It was 1989.
Lionel Richie (The Midnight Sun)
After receiving a nomination in 1982 for the song Endless Love, namesake of the Franco Zeffirelli film (in Italian Endless Love), Lionel Richie withdrew the statuette in 1986 for Say You. Say Me, theme song of the film White Nights. Richie in the same year he was nominated along with Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton for the song Miss Celie’s Blue inserted in The Color Purple.
Jeoffrey Fletcher (Precious)
It was the first African American to win an Oscar for “Adapted Screenplay”. The film that gave him the coveted prize in 2010 was Precious. John Ridley was in fact the second thanks to 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, from whose novel drew the winning script. The year was 2014.
Oprah Winfrey (from The Color Purple in Selma)
In 1986 he was nominated for “Best Supporting Actress” for The Color Purple, she played Sofia remember? In 2014 he wanted at all costs to produce Selma – The road to freedom, which last year was put on the list of the best films. In 2012 however he received a special Oscar: the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.