The History of Black Women & the Academy Awards


By creating this infographic, Truth In Reality is not dismissing or minimizing the performances of these tremendously gifted actresses, nor the importance of their place in the history of the Oscars. This infographic was created to point out the lack of gender and racial diversity in the Academy and expose the glaring need for greater diversity at all levels of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, especially for women of color.

On Sunday, February 22, 2015, the Academy Awards will be televised around the globe. This year's Oscars is the first time since 1998 that all nominees for lead supporting actors and actresses are White, sparking a huge backlash on social media with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite being used by those angered by what appears to be an intentional effort by the Academy to demonstrate a lack of respect for Black actors & actresses. Their complete erasure from this year's nominees is even more glaring when combined with the fact that the critically acclaimed film "Selma" was nominated for Best Picture but its director Ava DuVernay, the first Black female director in the history of the Academy Awards to have a film nominated for Best Picture, did not herself receive a nomination for Best Director.

In and of itself, the lack of diversity at this year's Academy Award is extremely problematic. (As those in the industry would say, "The optics are terrible"). However, the racism and sexism of the Academy's voting process is crystal clear when you also examine from a historical perspective the types of roles Black actresses have played that won them a prestigious Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress award.  Since the first Oscars ceremony was held in 1929, all seven Black actresses have been awarded for playing a role that is either a historical or common stereotype of Black women.   This is just one of the reasons why Truth In Reality is committed to changing the media portrayals of women of color through our Redefining HERstory campaign. Media representation matters!


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