When will the #oscarsgotitright trend start?

Lillian Nero, Opinion Writer

 According to NBC News, the 2019 Academy Awards were the “first to award more than one  black woman by the end of the night”. These three women are Regina King, Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Bleacher.  

King won “Best Supporting Actress” for her role in “If Beale Street Could Talk”. Both Carter and Bleacher won for their work on Marvel’s blockbuster film, “Black Panther”. Bleacher won for “Best Production Design” and Carter won for “Best Costume Design”, almost 30 years after her first nomination for “Malcolm X” in 1993 

According to the Academy Awards, King is one of the 24 black women to have been nominated for “Best Supporting Actress’” and is one of eight who have won.  

The first black woman to be nominated and win would be Hattie McDaniels for her role as “Mammy” in the 1939 fil adaptation of “Gone with the Wind”. During such a tremulous time for black people in America, it was though that, McDaniels’ win as a victory for black people and win that will continue to set us for success with the Oscars.  

 It would take 21 years for another black woman to be nominated for any Academy Award. In 1954, Dorothy Dandridge became the first black woman to be nominated for “Best Actress in a Leading Role” for her role as “Carmer Jones” in the movie, “Carmen Jones”.  

Now even though Dandrige was nominated, it wasn’t until 2001 when a black woman won an Oscar for “Best Actress in a Leading Role”. Halle Berry won for her role as Leticia Musgrove, a widowed woman whose love interest executed her husband on Death Row. 

For 2020’s Best Actress nominees, Black-British actress Cynthia Erivo was nominated for her portrayal of Harriet Tubman. She Is the first black woman to be nominated for Best Actress since 2012 when 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis was nominated for her role as “Hushpuppy” in “Beasts of fthe Southern Wild”. 

Between McDaniels win and Cynthia Erivos nomination, black women were nominated for “Best Supporting Actress” 24 times, and “Best Leading Role” 12 times.  

In 91 years, there were 89 times where white women were nominated for “Best Actress” alone, while not a single Native American woman has won anything, let alone nominated.  

I feel like the lack of representation in nominees and winners are because of who the Oscar voters are. 

In 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported that 94% of Oscar voters are white and 77% of voters are male. Now this does not mean that the Oscar voters are racist, there could be a lack of understanding the role. For example, “The Color Purple”.  

In 1985, Whoopi Goldberg’s role as “Cealie Johnson” in Oprah’s adaptation of Toni Morrison’s “The Color Purple” earned Goldberg a “Best Actress” nomination at the Oscars. Unfortunately, she didn’t win which hurt the black community. I can only imagine that back in the 0’s it was much closer to 100% white for the Oscar voters.  

I feel that the lack of diversity is directly related to the lack of diversity in nominees and winners. Fixing this would make the Oscars more inclusive and more entertaining to watch, considering that it won’t be the same few people each year. 

In Berry’s acceptance speech, she mentioned that her win “opened a door” for other women of color, but in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, she is “heartbroken that no other woman of color has been able to walk through that door.  

Quite frankly, I’m a little heartbroken too. I haven’t seen a woman who looks like me win “Best Actress” in my lifetime. I’m tired of saying “#oscarssowhite”, I want to say “#oscarsgotitright”.