After 2018 screaming out for diversity, 2019 seems to be strongly delivering. The cast of Black Panther received the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture. Chadwick Bosemen delivered the memorable acceptance speech describing himself as “young, gifted and black”. This is particularly poignant after last year’s Oscar success for Jordan Peele, who was the first African American man to win an Oscar in original screenplay for “Get Out”: which depicted anxiety surrounding racism. It seems that the tide is starting to change in the awards system.
However, despite this revolution in the some aspects, the Oscars still has some progress to make in the name of diversity. The last and only black women to win an Oscar for best actress was Halle Berry in 2001 for her role in “Monster’s ball”. The same year Denzel Washington won best actor for his role as Alonzo Harris in “Training day”. This is the only time in Oscar history to ever have two people of colour win the leading awards in one year and the last time a person of colour won a best actor was Forest Whittaker in 2006 for his role in “The last king of Scotland”.
For people of Asian descent Ang Lee is the stand out for two best director awards for “Brokeback mountain” and “Life of Pi”. When looking at the statistics for actors of Asian descent the nominations and awards get even slimmer with Ben Kinglsey being the only winner/nomination for his role in “Ghandi”.
Television awards are also getting more varied despite being behind in terms of diversity. It was a recent as 2015 when Voila Davis became the first black woman to ever win an Emmy for her role in “How to get away with Murder”, famously stating “the only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity.”
With this years Oscars being hugely diverse, it will be fascinating to see if “Black Panther” can repeat its success. As Berry stated in her acceptance speech there is “a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”