Allegra Pradelli, Feature Editor

Despite having killer roles, the too-short-list of black people in the oscars has caught the attention of a lot of people. In the Academy’s 91-year history, only 46 Oscars have been given to Black actors and actresses.


Here you can find a list of the most important awards given to Black actresses and actors.


Mahershala ALi won Best Supporting Actor

In the face of Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, Mahershala Ali became the first to win an Oscar for his performance in Moonlight in 2017. He also won this year Best Supporting Actor for his role in the controversial film, Green Book.


Hattie McDaniel was the first Black person to win an Academy Award.

Hattie McDaniel got an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1939 thank to her performance “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind. The ceremony took place at the Coconut Grove nightclub in The Ambassador Hotel, which had a strict “no blacks” policy, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but a producer called in a special favor to have McDaniel allowed in the building. Still, the actress, instead of being seated at the cast table, was escorted to a small table where she sat with her escort and her white agent.


Sounder was the first film to feature black nominees for both Best Actor and Best Actress.

The 1972 film earned Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield a Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively.


The Best Original Score and The Best Original Song category has the highest number of Black nominees (41) than any other category.

The Best Supporting Actress category has 24 black nominees, Best Actor has 23, Best Supporting Actor has 19, and Best Actress has 11.


Four members of the Black Panther cast have received Oscar nominations.

Angela Bassett received a Best Actress nod for 1994’s What’s Love Got to Do With It; Daniel Kaluuya received a Best Actor nod in 2017 for his lead role in Get Out; Lupita Nyong’o received a Best Supporting Actress award in 2013 for her role in 12 Years A Slave; and Forest Whitaker received a Best Actor award in 2006 for his lead role in The Last King of Scotland.


Quincy Jones has the most combined nominations and wins.

Quincy Jones received a Best Picture nod in 1985 for The Color Purple (becoming the first Black producer to do so), two Best Music, Original Song nods (1967, 1985), two  Original Score nods (1967, 1985), and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1995.


Diana Ross received a Best Actress nomination for her debut film performance.

In 1972, Diana Ross became the first black actress to receive an Academy Award nomination for a debut film performance for her lead role as Billie Holiday in 1972’s Lady Sings the Blues. That nomination also made her the second ever black person nominated for Best Actress, after Dorothy Dandridge’s nod in 1954.


In 2017, Yance Ford became the first-ever openly transgender man nominated for an Oscar.

Filmmaker Yance Ford earned a Best Documentary Feature nod in 2017 for his film Strong Island, becoming the first openly transgender man and director to be nominated for any Academy Award.

Russell Williams won Best Sound Mixing awards back-to-back for his work on 1989’s Glory and 1990’s Dancing With Wolves.

As a result, Williams became the first and only black person to win consecutive Oscar awards in any category.


Octavia Spencer is tied with Octavia Spencer as the most nominated black actress ever.

Both actresses are tied at three, with Spencer having three Best Supporting Actress nods (The Help, which she won, The Shape of Water, and Hidden Figures) and Davis having two Best Supporting Actress nods (Doubt and Fences, which she won) and a Best Actress nod for The Help.) Spencer is also the first black actress to be nominated after previously winning and to be nominated two years in a row.


Irene Cara is the first (and only) black woman to win a competitive, non-acting Academy Award.

In 1983, actress and singer Irene Cara won Best Music, Original Song with Keith Forsey and Giorgio Moroder for her performance of “Flashdance… What a Feeling” for Flashdance.


In 1972, Suzanna de Passe became the first (and still only) black woman nominated for Best Writing (Original Screenplay).

Not only was de Passe the first black person ever nominated for that category, but she was also the first black person ever nominated for a screenwriting Oscar award. She and Dee Rees (2017’s Mudbound) remain the only black women ever nominated in any screenwriting category.