On top of the Academy nominating Black actors in every acting category for the first time ever and three predominately Black casts snagging a nomination for Best Picture this year, a few nominees have already made a little history of their own. These trailblazers include actress Viola Davis, writer/director Barry Jenkins, film editor Joi McMillion, producer Kimberly Steward, cinemographer Bradford Young, screenwriter Tarell McCraney and the late great playwright August Wilson. Check out their historic accomplishments below:
Viola Davis is now the first Black woman to receive three Oscar nominations. Her first two nominations were for "Doubt" and "The Help", where she earned a nod for Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress respectively. Davis has now been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her incredible performance in "Fences".
Writer and director Barry Jenkins continues to score big with his film "Moonlight". It received eight Oscar nods this morning, three of which made Barry Jenkins the first Black writer/director to receive nominations for Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture. Jenkins also joins "Moonlight" writer Tarell McCraney, and the late August Wilson in the category for Best Screenplay, which marks the first time that three Black screenwriters have been nominated in the same year. If Jenkins wins Best Director, he will become the first Black man to win in the category.
"Moonlight" makes history again as its film editor, Joi McMillion became the first Black woman to get an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing. She shares her historic nomination with co-editor, Nat Sanders.
Kimberly Steward is a philanthropist, an entrepreneur and now the second Black woman producer to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. The first was Oprah Winfrey for Ava DuVernay's "Selma". Steward financed the now Oscar nominated film, "Manchester by the Sea" through her company K. Period Media.
Bradford Young is now officially the first African American ever to earn an Oscar nomination for Cinematography. He is also the second Black person to be nominated in the category, as English cinematographer Remi Adefarasin became the first in 1999 for his work on the film "Elizabeth". Young's nod was for the film "Arrival", which is also up for Best Picture.
While Hollywood still has much work to do, we want to acknowledge and thank Cheryl Isaacs Boone (the first African American President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences) for her efforts to advocate for inclusion and diversity.