Black Actor Oscar Nominations: By The Numbers

7 Best Supporting Actress Nominees Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Naomie Harris (The Wrap)

7 Best Supporting Actress Nominees Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Naomie Harris (The Wrap)

Remember how the last couple of Oscar ceremonies were plagued by a lack of diverse nominees, especially in the major categories? The Academy has appeared to learn from that. The change has become especially clear in the acting categories. This year, each acting category has at least one Black nominee.

Here are the stats:

Best Actor: Denzel Washington (“Fences”)

  • Washington is now the most nominated Black actor in Oscar history. He’s had six previous nominations, two for Best Supporting Actor and four for Best Actor. He won Best Supporting Actor in “Glory” in Best Actor for “Training Day” in 2001.

Best Actress: Ruth Negga (“Loving”)

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”)

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), Octavia Spender (“Hidden Figures”)

  • This year is the first time an acting category has had three Black nominees. The last time an acting category had two Black nominees was in 1985, when Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey were both nominated for “The Color Purple.”
  • This is the second time the Best Supporting Actress category has had three non-white nominees. The first time was in 2007, with Jennifer Hudson for “Dreamgirls,” and Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi for “Babel” nominated.
  • Davis made history this year by becoming the first Black actress to score three Oscar nominations. Previously, Whoopi Goldberg was the only Black actress to have two Oscar nominations. She won the Oscar for her second nomination for her performance in “Ghost” in 1991.

#ThrowbackThursday: Whoopi Goldberg Wins the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Ghost,” 1990

Whoopi Goldberg at the Oscars, 1991 (Leosigh)

Whoopi Goldberg at the Oscars, 1991 (Leosigh)

Actress/comedian Whoopi Goldberg won an Oscar for “Ghost,” the seminal Patrick Swayze movie where his character dies and comes back as, you guessed it, a ghost. (Shocker, right?) Goldberg played Oda Mae Brown, a psychic who helps Swayze’s character.

Goldberg won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the movie a the 63rd Annual Academy Awards in 1991. This was her second Oscar nomination: Goldberg had previously been nominated for Best Actress in 1986’s “The Color Purple.”

Until the 2017 Oscar nominations were announced, Goldberg was the only Black actress to be nominated for an Oscar twice. Now there’s a new record: Powerhouse actress Viola Davis received a nomination for her work in “Fences,” and she is now the only Black actress to be nominated three times for an Oscar.  Davis had previously been nominated in 2009 for “Doubt” and in 2012 for “The Help.”