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

As part of the #28in28 in film, I will be highlighting black men and women who have been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences aka the Oscars. A lot of those in my generation may be aware of those who have won or been nominated in past the 10 years but before then, we draw a blank. Allow me to provide the history lesson and recognize all of them.

Since girls run the world (word to Beyoncé), it is only right that I start this off with the women. Of course, we gave a preview yesterday when we put the spotlight on Hattie McDaniel,the first African American to win the award.


Since then, there have been 18 other nominations.

1949 – Ethel Waters for Pinky

1959 – Juanita Moore for Imitation of Life

1967 – this was the first time two African American actresses were nominated in the same category.

Carol Channing for Thoroughly Modern Millie

Beah Richards for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

1983 – Alfre Woodard for Cross Creek

1985 was the second time multiple African-American actresses received this particular nomination. This was also the first time that multiple actresses of color received the nominations for the same film. It was Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery for The Color Purple.

1990 – Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost – WON

1996  – Marianne Jean-Baptiste for Secrets & Lies. She was the first black British actress to receive an Academy Award nomination.

2002 – Queen Latifah for Chicago, many hip hop fans have known and been a fan of Queen Latifah for many years before Chicago. She was the first hip hop artist to be nominated for an Academy Award.

2004 – Sophie Okonedo for Hotel Rwanda

2006 – Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls – WONShe is the first African American actor, male or female, to win  an Academy Award for a debut film performance. She is the also the youngest to win or be nominated for this award at 25 along with being the first African-American actress to win an Academy Award for a musical film.

2007 – Ruby Dee for American Gangster (one of my favorite movies!!) . Ruby Dee was the  oldest African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award at 83.

2008 was the third time two African-American actresses were nominated in the same category. Taraji P. Henson was nominated for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Viola Davis was nominated for Doubt,  a film where she only had one scene.

2009 – Mo’Nique for PreciousWON 

2011 – Octavia Spencer for The HelpWON 

2013 – Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years A SlaveWON. She was the first black African actress to win and be nominated and the second black actor to win for a debut performance.


***Please note that the year noted is when the film was released, not when they won the award.

After researching this information, there are still a few of these that I haven’t seen that I have been meaning to get around to. I plan to rectify this situation though as soon as I get my last two films out of the way for this year’s Oscars.

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