Viola Davis Makes Record with Oscar Win

Viola Davis Oscar win, 2017 (TV Insider)

Viola Davis Oscar win, 2017 (TV Insider)

Viola Davis (a.k.a QUEEN VIOLA) won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in “Fences.” (She also gave an excellent acceptance speech.) This wasn’t remotely a surprise, as she was CLEANING UP during awards season. This win has now ushered Davis into an upper echelon of artists that many people don’t achieve.

When she was nominated for the award, Davis started making history right out of the gate.   She became the first Black actor or actress to receive three Oscar nominations. (Her two previous nominations were for “Doubt” in 2008, and “The Help” in 2011.) This year’s Best Supporting Actress nominations was the first time three Black women were nominated, and the second time three non-white women were nominated.

With her win, Davis has hit other records. She’s now the 23rd person to win what’s called the triple crown of acting: a Tony, an Emmy, and a “competitive” (a.k.a. non-honorary) Oscar. Davis is also the first Black actor to achieve this feat, winning Tony for “King Hedley II” in 2001, and “Fences” in 2010, and an Emmy for “How to Get Away with Murder” in 2015.

This club is a rare one indeed. Davis is the first actress of her generation to achieve this honor. She even beat perennial-nominee-for-everything Meryl Streep to the punch.

Davis also has three out of the four awards required for an EGOT “grand slam:” Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony (though one could argue that Davis herself brings the G). The Grammys don’t honor acting, so the EGOT is more about versatility in the entertainment industry.

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#ThrowbackThursday: Rita Moreno, 1961

Rita Moreno, 1961 (Pinterest)

Actress Rita Moreno poses with her Oscar after she was named best supporting actress at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles on April 9, 1962. She won for her roll in “West Side Story

In 1961, actress Rita Moreno won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Anita in “West Side Story.” She was the first Latina actress to win that award.

Moreno didn’t stop there: In 1975, she won the Tony for Best Supporting Actress for “The Ritz.” And she was the first Latina actress to win that award as well.

Two years later, Moreno became the second person ever to achieve the EGOT: winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. She’s continued working steadily and blazing trails today.

How Many Asian Actors Have Been Nominated for Oscars?

Yul Brynner in 'The King and I,' 1956 (Gold Derby)

Yul Brynner in ‘The King and I,’ 1956 (Gold Derby)

The Oscars are this weekend (Sunday, Feb. 28th), and the big controversy this year has centered around the lack of non-white acting nominees (and continues last year’s #OscarsSoWhite hashtag). But when talked about in detail, the conversation has seemed to focus more on including Black nominees and narratives. And that’s great! But there are a wealth of other races and ethnicities that need to be included in the conversation and given a place at the table.

This led me to wonder: how many Asian acting nominees and winners have there been in the history of the Academy Awards? Spoiler alert: not all that many, sadly.

The Best Actor category has seen the most Asian men win the award: Yul Brynner in 1956, and Ben Kingsley in 1982. These two men comprise two-thirds of the category’s Asian nominees.

Actress Merle Oberon was the first Asian nominated for any Oscar, and the first nominated for Best Actress. (The category was called “Best Lead Actress” when she was nominated in 1935.) She remains the sole Asian woman nominee of the category.

Of the seven Asian men who received Best Supporting Actor nominations spanning 1957 to 2003, only one has won: Haing S. Ngor in 1984. Six Asian women have received Best Supporting Actress nominations, but only one has won: Miyoshi Umeki in 1957.

Considering that these categories have five nominees each, and the Academy Awards have been occurring since 1930, this nominations/wins-to-visibility ratio is…fucking pathetic.

I really hope this year teaches the Academy a lesson, and we’ll begin to see more diverse characters and stories not just on screen, but materially validated by the old guard as well.

 

All of the Oscar Acting Nominees Are White. WTF?

 

Oscars 2016 Best Actress Nominees (Reuters)

Oscars 2016 Best Actress nominees (Reuters)

Last week, the Oscar nominations were announced. Selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the winners will be revealed Feb. 28. But this year continued a disturbing trend that began last year: Not one of the nominees in any of the acting categories (Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor) were people of color (POC).

I use the word “disturbing” as it seems the Academy is determined to ignore stories and narratives that don’t fit within their very narrow worldview. It’s becoming increasingly clear that non-white stories are not only valuable (as we knew already), but make bank, both in terms of box office and in social influence. (See this past year’s examples of TV smash “Empire,” and movies “Straight Outta Compton” and “Dope.”) The Academy needs to wake up and see that rewarding diverse stories can only help their bottom line.

In terms of the numbers, here are some of the most recent POC nominees (counted if they didn’t win) and winners:

Best Actress:

Winner: Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball,” 2001)

Nominee: Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” 2012)

Best Actor:

Winner: Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland,” 2006)

Nominee: Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave,” 2013)

Best Supporting Actress:

Winner: Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave,” 2013)

Nominee: Taraji P. Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” 2008)

Best Supporting Actor:

Winner: Djimon Hounsou (“Blood Diamond,” 2006)

Nominee: Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips,” 2013)