Despite all the laws being passed against racism, its remnants still exist in America to a large extent. People are sidelined at many places because they are not white. Especially the evil of slavery that the African-Americans had to go through for centuries is of a brutal description. The racial slurs are part of the vocabulary of racist people still today and they don’t hesitate to show their narrow-mindedness. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is no different in this case. There have been only 13 African-American actors and actresses who have won an Oscar for their performances. The first African-American Oscar winner was James Baskett but he did not win in any acting category and was given an honorary award in 1946 when he sang “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” for the Disney movie “Song of the South”. Two of the most famous winners are Denzel Washington (Training Day, 2002) and Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball, 2002). Within the last decade of 2000s there have been seven winners alone. Here are the ten African-American Oscar winners:
1. Hattie McDaniel
She was the first African-American to ever win an Oscar. Her performance as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939) won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She also happens to be the oldest African-American female to win at the age of 44. She was also a singer-songwriter, comedian, stage actress, radio performer, and television star. She also holds the credit for being the first African-American to sing on the radio in America. Most of her work in films was not credited to her, but some of it did. She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one is for her radio work and the other is of course for her work in films. She was also inducted in the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1975. She was further recognized with her own US postage stamp that made her the first African-American Oscar winner to be given that honour. She was known as a comic actress and won the role for Mammy when she auditioned wearing a real maid’s uniform.
2. Sidney Poitier
He is a Bahamian-American actor, film director, author, and diplomat and is the first black person to win an Oscar for Best Actor for Lilies of the Filed (1963) and was the youngest black actor to win at the age of 37. He became the top box office star in 1967 with three big movie hits of that year. He was recognized as one of the Greatest Male Stars of All Time and was ranked at 22 on the list of 25 in 1999. He was further honoured with Honorary Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2002. He was also given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009, which is the highest American civilian honour. He has been serving as Bahamian ambassador to Japan since 1997. He has won several awards in his acting career and has made documentaries too. He has also worked on television and written three autobiographical books.
3. Louis Cameron Gossett, Jr.
He is an African-American actor who had won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman in 1982. He became the first African-American to win an Academy Award in that category. He has starred in numerous huge film productions over the period of his career. He has worked extensively on television as well, which earned for him more recognition and status as a performer than in the movies. He has done a bit of theatre work too. His new film The Grace Card released this year has him in the lead role.
4. Whoopi Goldberg
Her real name is Caryn Elaine Johnson, but is famously known as Whoopi Goldberg. She is an African-America comedian, actress, singer-songwriter, political activist, author and talk show host. She won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Oda Mae Brown in the movie Ghost (1990). This made her the first African-American actress to get two acting nominations overall. She was previously nominated in the lead actress category for her debut film, The Color Purple (1985). She has starred in many well-known films and over the years has also established herself as a great television actress. She has also sung for her own movies. She has won many awards and nominations for her body of work from many different places. She is amongst those few entertainers who have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony Award. She also has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Now you could see her hosting The View, which is popular amongst audiences.
5. Cuba M. Gooding, Jr.
He is an African-American actor who is widely known for his performance as Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire (1996), which won him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He has worked in many acclaimed and successful movies, which have also won awards and nominations for him. He has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was given to him in 2002. Although not coming out as much as a lead actor on his own in movies, he has done films with dedication and justice to deliver the performances. He has an ability to do character roles, but is somehow perceived fit for comedy roles.
6. Jamie Foxx
His real name is Eric Marlon Bishop, but is known to the world as Jamie Foxx. He is an African-American actor, singer-songwriter, stand-up comedian, and also talk radio host. He received global recognition with his performance as the singer Ray Charles in the film, Ray (2004). He got a clean sweep at all award shows for it. He became the first African-American actor to receive two nominations in the same year and also the first African-American actor to win for a musical film. He has also won a Grammy Award for his singing talent. His music has received praise and success amongst critics and fans alike. He has won other awards for his other movies as well. He got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007. He starred in Horrible Bosses this year and also voiced Nico in Rio.
7. Morgan Freeman
He is an African-American actor, film director, aviator and a narrator. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris in Million Dollar Baby (2004). He became the oldest African-American male actor to win an Oscar at the age of 67. He is particularly known for a unique voice and has down many narrative works for films. He has also been part of many successful movies and has been nominated for Best Actor three times and twice for Best Supporting Actor, one of which he won. He has done acting on television as well. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. He has got honorary degrees from Delta State University in 2006 and from Brown University in 2010. Recently, he appeared in Dolphin Tale as Dr. Cameron McCarthy.
8. Forest Steven Whitaker
He is an African-American actor, producer, and director, who won Oscar for Best Actor for his role as the notorious Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland (2006). This role has also won for him numerous other awards. He is widely recognized for strong character roles and for his television work. He is involved in activism for vegetarianism and supports People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). He is an honorary chief among the Igbo community of Nkwerre in Imo State, Nigeria and has the title of Nwannedinamba of Nkwerre, which means A Brother in a Foreign Land. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame which he got in 2007. Xavier University of Louisiana awarded him an Honorary Degree in 2009. He has studied yoga and Filipino martial arts. He will be seen in “Catch .44” which will be released soon.
9. Jennifer Kate Hudson
She is an African-American actress, recording artist and spokesperson. She won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Effie White in Dreamgirls (2006) and became the first African-American acting artist to win for a debut performance and also the youngest African-American to win an Academy Award at the age of 25. For this role, she won many other awards too. She is known for her singing talents more than acting, because as an artist this is her main field. She has won many awards for her songs and albums too. In fact she became famous for the first time as a finalist in the American Idol reality TV show. Since then, her music career is going strong. Her new album I Remember Me (2011) has been successful. She will be seen in a biographical film “Winnie” playing Nelson Mandela’s former wife.
10. Monica Imes Hicks
She is known as Mo’Nique in the entertainment industry and is an African-American comedienne and actress. Her critically successful performance in Precious (2009) won her many awards and nominations including the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She is the sixteenth African-American actress to get a nomination and fourth to win it and overall that makes her the twelfth winner in an acting category. Though she is generally known to play comic roles but she had a negative character in Precious. She also won awards for her television performances. Currently she is hosting The Mo’Nique Show since 2009 and has not done any films yet. She has also written a best-selling book “Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World”. Another book by her is a cookbook called “Skinny Cooks Can’t Be Trusted”.