This week is the Oscars, which means around the country, people are cramming in their last chances to have social media bragging rights over whether they watched all the Oscar-nominated movies before the Oscars broadcast.
If you’re not bothered by the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, or not boycotting like Will & Jada, or just really excited to hear Chris Rock’s monologue in real time, you’re probably in some stage of getting your Oscar viewing party ready. Bingo cards are being printed and drinking games devised. Drink if someone forgets to thank a spouse or begs for more time. Do a shot if a documentary/short film winner take the chance to make a political statement. Finish your drink if someone doesn’t thank an agent or manager (jk, this is the person they will all remember).
For those of us who have been following the #OscarsSoWhite controversy with a keen eye, this year marks yet another year with people of color woefully underrepresented aka not at all. Having a black host doesn’t negate this, and in fact highlights the fact that the faces staring back at him will be all white.
In case you wanted some facts to go with your #OscarsSoWhite-related rage (whether you end up watching or not), here’s a quick fact sheet of the handful of actors of color who have won awards. As a quick note, while the Academy Awards began in 1928, the Supporting categories were added almost a decade later.
Who were the first?
- First Best Actor of Color – José Ferrer (1950)
- First Best Actress of Color – Halle Berry (2001)
- First Best Supporting Actor of Color – Anthony Quinn (1952)
- First Best Supporting Actress of Color – Hattie McDaniel (1939)
6* men of color have won Best Actor out of 78 winning actors since 1928.
- José Ferrer – Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)
- Sidney Poitier – Lillies of the Field (1963)
- Ben Kingsley – Gandhi (1982)
- Denzel Washington – Training Day (2001)
- Jamie Foxx – Ray (2004)
- Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland (2006)
*Yul Brynner (1956, for The King and I) is considered Asian according to Wikipedia, but is Russian born, so take it with a huge grain of salt.
7 men of color have won Best Supporting Actor out of 71 actors since 1936.
- Anthony Quinn – Viva Zapata! (1952) & Lust for Life (1956)
- Louis Gossett, Jr. – An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
- Haing S. Ngor – The Killing Fields (1984)
- Denzel Washington – Glory (1989)
- Cuba Gooding, Jr. – Jerry Maguire (1996)
- Benicio del Toro – Traffic (2000)
- Morgan Freeman – Million Dollar Baby (2004)
A sample of actors who were nominated and have not won: James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, Edward James Olmos. Also not nominated: most Asian and Native Actors relegated to bit parts for their whole career.
1 woman of color has won Best Actress out of 73 actresses since 1928.
- Halle Berry – Monster’s Ball (2001)
9 women of color have won Best Supporting Actress out of 77 actresses since 1936.
- Hattie McDaniel – Gone with the Wind (1939)
- Miyoshi Umeki – Sayonara (1957)
- Rita Moreno – West Side Story (1961)
- Whoopi Goldberg – Ghost (1990)
- Mercedes Ruehl – The Fisher King (1991)
- Jennifer Hudson – Dreamgirls (2006)
- Mo’Nique – Precious (2009)
- Octavia Spencer –The Help (2011)
- Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave (2013)
A sample of actresses who were nominated and have not won: Ruby Dee, Cicely Tyson, Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Angela Bassett, Sophie Okonedo, Viola Davis Rosie Perez, Salma Hayek. Also not nominated: literally every Asian and Native actress you can think of.
Other Quick Facts to shut down friends who think diversity is overrated or that people of color are represented enough.
- The only directors of color to win Best Director are Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Ang Lee, all of whom are foreign-born. All won after 2005.
- John Singleton, Lee Daniels, and Steve McQueen are the only black directors nominated. The first Asian-American nominated is M. Night Shyamalan for The Sixth Sense.
- Influential foreign directors all Hollywood directors and film school kids claim to be inspired by, Akira Kurosawa and Satyajit Ray were never recognized as Best Director, the former only getting recognition for foreign-language film.
- No women of color have ever been nominated for Best Director. The first woman of color who was recognized for directing was Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s Best Animated Feature nomination for Kung Fu Panda 2 in 2011.
- The first black producer to ever win, was Steve McQueen in 2013 for 12 Years a Slave. There have been no Asian-American producer winners. The only latino winner was Alejandro González Iñárritu who is Mexican.
While this quick breakdown only looked at the major acting and film awards, there have been some wins in documentary, short film, and technical areas. Assuming all the people of color nominated in all non-technical categories this year, win, this is how these numbers will change:
- Arnon Milchan could be the first Asian producer to win Best Picture for The Revenant.
- Ronnie del Carmen could be the first Filipino to win for Best Writing, Original Screenplay for Inside Out.
- Boy & the World could be the first Latin-American movie to win for Best Animated Feature.
- Embrace of the Serpent or El abrazo de la serpiente could be the first Colombian film to win Best Foreign Language Film.
- Bear Story may be the first Latin American animated short film to win an Academy Award.
At this rate, I hope future generations celebrate the wins of the first women of color to win directing in the year 3000 or dismantle the whole system.