Black Women and the Oscars: Best Actress in a Leading Role

With the Oscars on ABC tomorrow, let’s continue this history lesson with the black women who have been nominated for ‘Best Actress in a Leading Role’.

Halle Berry was the first (and only) woman  to win in this category in 2001 but there were a number of actresses nominated before she took it home.

As of 2015, here are the nominees:

1954 – Dorothy Dandridge for Carmen Jones

1972 – this was the first time multiple African American actresses received Best Actress nominations.

Diana Ross for Lady Sings the Blues. She was the first African American actress to receive an Academy Award nomination for a debut film performance.

Cicely Tyson for Sounder

1974 – Diahann Carroll for Claudine

1985 – Whoopi Goldberg for The Color Purple. This was the first time African American actresses received nominations for the same film.

1993 – Angela Bassett for What’s Love Got to Do With It. (Personal bias but I definitely believe that Angela Bassett should have won for this role.)

2001 – Halle Berry for Monster’s BallWON. She was the first to win this award and this was the first time two African Americans won an Oscar for leading roles. Denzel Washington won for Training Day. 

2009 – Gabourey Sidibe for Precious 

2011 – Viola Davis for The Help. Viola Davis is tied with Whoopi Goldberg as the most nominated African American actress with 2 nominations.

2012 – Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild. She was the youngest ever to be nominated in this category at age 9.

Who’s going to watch the Oscars tomorrow? Make sure to follow me on Twitter so we can watch together and discuss the winners!


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