Oscar rewind: Only 10 black women have been nominated for Best Actress

dorothy dandridge halle berry viola davis whoopi goldberg

With the Oscars historically skewing white and male, women of color have been especially disadvantaged. Specifically noting the history for black performers, our forum poster AwardsConnect points out, “Over the 88 years since the Academy Awards were first established, 20 black leading men, 17 supporting men and 18 supporting women have garnered Oscar nominations for their work. These are paltry numbers to be sure, particularly as you consider more than 400 performances have thus far been nominated in each of these categories. The numbers are especially anemic, however, in the Lead Actress category — a mere 10 black women have garnered Best Actress nominations.”

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Those 10 women were Dorothy Dandridge (“Carmen Jones,” 1954), Diana Ross (“Lady Sings the Blues,” 1972), Cicely Tyson (“Sounder,” 1972), Diahann Carroll (“Claudine,” 1974), Whoopi Goldberg (“The Color Purple,” 1985), Angela Bassett (“What’s Love Got to Do with It,” 1993), Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball,” 2001) Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious,” 2009), Viola Davis (“The Help,” 2011) and Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” 2012).

Our forum posters are discussing which of those performances is their favorite. Of the 10, only Berry won the award, but as of this writing Goldberg is leading their poll. Read some of their comments below, then join the discussion and vote in our message boards.

thatfilmgirl: I’m still bitter Viola Davis didn’t win the Oscar. Meryl really should’ve won for “Julie & Julia” a few years earlier instead of “The Iron Lady.” Will always be bitter. I’m hoping Davis can land a fantastic role in the next few years that could get her that win.

OnTheAisle: After some time has passed, I begin to believe my admiration for the work of Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious” is exaggerated. I will watch the film again and be astonished at the power of her performance. The pain in her eyes haunts me. She is able to take horrific events and make me forget the horror.

babypook: Impossible choice. Some absolutely terrific perfs up there and countless others who were overlooked … I went with Dorothy Dandridge, a courageous pioneer. Were it not for her, there might not have been a Q. Wallis.

Milk Money: Diana Ross of the nominees. Had her film came out the following year instead she would have easily won. Whoopi and Pam Grier would have made worthy historic winners, too. It’s almost laughable that Halle’s performance is the first and only to win.

nkb325: I’m embarassed to admit but I’ve only seen Davis and Wallis… but either way, they were both my personal winners their respective years, so even out of those two it’s an extremely difficult decision. I’ll go with Wallis purely just because I know I’ll probably be one of the few to vote for her.

Sasha: If it wasn’t for [Geraldine Page] being way overdue Whoopi would have become the first black leading actress to win Oscar. BTW have you seen Whoopi’s reaction to Geraldine’s win? She was genuinely happy for her. Why was there no tie here? It would have been so welcomed … And then came Angela whose movie unfortunately came out the same year one of the most acclaimed performances of the ’90s happened. She could have won any other year but not against [Holly Hunter] in “The Piano.”

Nick: Whoopi Goldberg had the second best female performance of all time as Celie Johnson. Subtle, ambiguous, internally powerful. She made you sympathize with her and made her a fully realized PERSON. Beyond phenomenal.

Atypical: It’s quite sad that there’s only 10 choices to choose from … Shameful. It’s Whoopi vs. Halle for me. Had to go with Whoopi for the far better film and staggering debut performance. No Halle hate from me though. Her Oscar win is truly one of my all-time favorites.

jjjmoss: It’s better than the numbers for Asian or Latina leading ladies (0, 3) at least.

Dish all the Oscar races in our red-hot forums with Hollywood insiders

Who do you think will win Best Actress this year? Make your predictions beginning with Best Actress to the right or at the bottom of this post.

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Photo Credits: Snap Stills/REX

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