Not So White! Here Are All the Black Actors Who Received Oscar Nominations

(Photo from left: 20th Century Fox Movies/David Lee, Paramount Pictures)

Not So White! Here Are All the Black Actors Who Received Oscar Nominations

#BlackExcellence finally gets its shine.

Published January 24, 2017

The nominees for the 2017 Academy Awards have been announced and some of the season's most critically acclaimed Black-led films have been recognized. From the likes of Viola Davis to Octavia Spencer, the Oscars are looking a bit more inclusive than the past.

Take a look at the Black actors and films that were nominated for the most prestigious award in Hollywood below:

    Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson in Fences from Paramount Pictures. Directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay by August Wilson.

    The veteran actor and two-time Oscar winner played his Fences character on Broadway, where he won a Tony Award, and is now going for Academy Awards gold.

  2. Ruth Negga — Best Actress

    The Irish-Ethiopian actress shot to the top of the Hollywood A-list this year thanks to her quiet but powerful performance as Mildred Loving in the civil rights biopic Loving.

  3. Viola Davis — Best Supporting Actress
    Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson in Fences from Paramount Pictures. Directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay by August Wilson.  (Photo: David Lee/Paramount Pictures)
    (Photo: David Lee/Paramount Pictures)

    Viola Davis received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the film Fences, brought to the big screen by her co-star Denzel Washington. The actress won a Tony Award in 2010 for her portrayal as Rose Maxson during her Broadway performance of Fences prior to it being brought to Hollywood.

  4. Octavia Spencer — Best Supporting Actress
    HF-049 - Octavia Spencer stars as Dorothy Vaughan in HIDDEN FIGURES. (Photo: Hopper Stone/Twentieth Century Fox)
    (Photo: Hopper Stone/Twentieth Century Fox)

    Octavia Spencer played Dorothy Vaughan, one of three African-American female mathematicians at NASA who were critical during the 1960s Space Race, in the film Hidden Figures. Her performance was so rousing that she is being honored with an Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category. The actress currently has an Academy Award under her belt for her role as Minny Jackson in The Help.

    SANTA MONICA, CA - DECEMBER 11:  Actress Naomie Harris arrives at The 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

    The British actress earned raves for her performance as a drug-afflicted mother in Moonlight

  6. Mahershala Ali — Best Supporting Actor

    Ali's role as Juan in this coming-of-age drama already earned him a Golden Globe nomination and is one of the most talked-about performances of the year. 

  7. 'Hidden Figures' — Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay
    NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Monae attend an official academy  screening of HIDDEN FIGURES hosted by the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at MOMA - Celeste Bartos Theater on December 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)

    The biopic about the Black women who were instrumental in putting a man on the moon took Hollywood by storm, beat Star Wars at the box office and is now a contender for the top prize at the Oscars.

  8. 'Moonlight' — Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Editing
    Alex Hibbert and Mahershala Ali
(Photo: David Bornfriend/A24)
    (Photo: David Bornfriend/A24)

    Moonlight has been lauded as one of the most heartfelt and celebrated films of 2016 — continuing into 2017 — and the film and its cast have already been honored by the Hollywood elite. The film recently won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama and is currently nominated for seven Academy Awards. The nomination for film editing, which is to Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders, marks the first time a Black woman received a nomination in this category.

  9. 'fences' — Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay
    Russell Hornsby plays Lyons, Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson, Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson and Stephen McKinley Henderson plays Jim Bono in Fences from Paramount Pictures. Directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay by August Wilson. (Photo: David Lee/Paramount Pictures)

    The Tony-winning Broadway revival of August Wilson's play was beautifully adapted for the big screen by director Denzel Washington and is now nominated for multiple Oscars.


    The independent filmmaker earned pretty much universal raves for this film, which he also co-wrote. Jenkins made history as the first Black filmmaker to earn a trifecta of nominations for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay.

  11. Bradford Young — Best Cinematographer

    Cinematographer Bradford Young Photo by kasia_kasica #camerimage #bradfordyoung #arrival

    A photo posted by Camerimage (@camerimage.festival) on

    Young's work on Arrival, also a Best Picture nominee, earned him a historic first Oscar nod for a Black cinematographer in Academy Awards history.

  12. 'I Am Not Your Negro' — Best Documentary Feature
    James Baldwin in I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, a Magnolia Pictures release.  (Photo: Dan Budnik/Magnolia Pictures)
    (Photo: Dan Budnik/Magnolia Pictures)

    I Am Not Your Negro is being deemed the dark horse in this year's awards season. The Raoul Peck documentary film, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, delves into the history of race relations in America through the eyes of James Baldwin.

  13. '13th' — Best Documentary Feature
    13TH (Photo: Netfilx)
    (Photo: Netfilx)

    Ava DuVernay gave race relations in the United States criminal justice system a true voice in the Netflix original documentary 13th. The doc, which is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, received major critical acclaim upon its release from both critics and viewers alike.

  14. 'O.J.: Made In America' — Best Documentary Feature
    374660 01: Mug shot of O.J. Simpson. (Photo by Online USA, Inc.)

    That two major works about O.J. Simpson could be awards contenders in the same year speaks to the power of his story and the impact it had on culture. This multi-part documentary went beyond the trial and took a deep dive into how society constructed the notorious NFL player.

  15. 'Life, Animated' — Best Documentary Feature
    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20:  Director Roger Ross Williams attends the CNN Films Cocktail Reception during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival at Hotel Americano on April 20, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival)
    (Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival)

    Roger Ross Williams, the director of this documentary about a child dealing with autism, already won an Oscar for his documentary short, Music by Prudence.

Watch the Fences cast talk about the importance of family in the BET Breaks video, above.

Written by BET Staff

(Photo: David Lee/Paramount Pictures)


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