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Oscars 2017: Not the end of #OscarsSoWhite, but a start

This year’s Oscar nominees make history.


Lauren L'Amie


Posted on Jan 24, 2017   Updated on May 25, 2021, 3:41 am CDT

Two years after the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag called out the Oscars’ overwhelming lack of representation, the 2017 nominees are in—and they’ve made history with a record number of black nominees across all categories.

Viola Davis, Naomie Harris, and Octavia Spencer were among the nominees for best supporting actress for their roles in Fences, Moonlight, and Hidden Figures, respectively. Not only does this mark the first time that three black women have been nominated in a performance category, it’s also the first time three black people have been nominated in the same category.

Davis, after her previous nominations for best supporting actress in 2009 (Doubt) and best actress in 2012 (The Help) also broke a record as the first black actress to receive three nominations.

Some more highlights:

  • Moonlight, Fences, and Hidden Figures, three films featuring predominantly black casts, all received nominations for best picture.

  • Other nominations include Denzel Washington for best actor (Fences), Ruth Negga for best actress (Loving), and Mahershala Ali for best supporting actor (Moonlight), making this year the first time that at least one black actor was included in every performance category.

  • Joi McMillon is the first black woman to be nominated (along with Nat Sanders) in the best editing category for her work on Moonlight.

  • Bradford Young, nominated for best cinematography for his work on Arrival, is the second black cinematographer to be nominated in the category.  

These nominations are a victory for people of color (and a very necessary step outside the nominee box for the historically very old, very white, very male members of the 89-year-old Academy). But many were quick to notice that other minority groups were left out, yet again.

Dev Patel, nominated for best supporting actor for his role in Lion, is only the third Indian actor to be nominated for an Academy Award. Ever. Lin-Manuel Miranda got a nod for best original song on Moana, as expected, but this makes him only one of two Latino nominees.

According to April Reign, the creator of #OscarsSoWhite, the awards this year may be blacker, but they’re not necessarily more diverse.  

“One year does not make up for over 80 years of underrepresentation of all genders, sexual orientations, races, abilities, and First Nation status,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “#OscarsSoWhite is about the inclusion of all marginalized communities, both in front of and behind the camera, throughout the entertainment industry.”

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*First Published: Jan 24, 2017, 12:04 pm CST