Viola Davis makes history as most Oscar-nominated Black actress

This year's nod for 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' marks her fourth nomination with one win for 'Fences' in 2017

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Viola Davis continues to make history.

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On Monday it was announced Davis became the most nominated Black woman in Oscar history, according to Netflix, with four nods. Davis’ latest nomination for her role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom broke her tie with Octavia Spencer who has three nominations and one win.

LOréal Paris Celebrates The Launch of Age Perfect Cosmetics
Viola Davis joins LOréal Paris to celebrate the launch of Age Perfect Cosmetics on March 03, 2020. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for L’Oréal Paris )

Davis took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Fences back in 2017. The Ma Rainey star has solidified her spot in Hollywood history but is known for candidly discussing the lack of opportunities for Black women and says if she were white she would be viewed differently for her accomplishments.

“I got the Oscar. I got the Emmy. I got the two Tonys. I’ve done Broadway. I’ve done off-Broadway. I’ve done TV. I’ve done film. I’ve done all of it. I have a career that’s probably comparable to Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver,” said Davis, per Newsweek.

Streep is the most nominated actor in Oscar history with 21 nods over three decades. She’s won three times.

“They all came out of Yale. They came out of Juilliard. They came out of NYU. They had the same path as me, and yet, I am nowhere near them. Not as far as money, not as far as job opportunities—nowhere close to it,” Davis said.

“But I have to get on that phone and people say, ‘You’re a Black Meryl Streep. There is no one like you.’ OK, then if there’s no one like me—you think I’m that—you pay me what I’m worth. You give me what I’m worth.”

23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Cocktail Reception
Actors Meryl Streep (L) and Viola Davis attend the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Cocktail Reception at The Shrine Expo Hall on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Davis is far from alone in her sentiments. Black talent is often overlooked but this year at the Oscars Black actors garnered a slew of nominations that will hopefully turn into wins.

As previously reported by theGrio, the nominations for the 93rd annual Oscars have been announced, and it looks like a few of our favorite films made quite the impression on the Academy. 

Priyanka Chopra and her husband, Nick Jonas, unveiled this year’s nominees Monday morning, and it’s clear Judas and the Black Messiah is the film to beat. 

The Shaka King-directed drama earned six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya are both up for Best Supporting Actor in the movie that also scored H.E.R. a nod for Best Original Song for “Fight For You.”

Daniel Kaluuya, Ashton Sanders, Algee Smith, Dominique Thorne, and Lakeith Stanfield appear in Judas and the Black Messiah by Shaka King, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Glen Wilson.

The late Chadwick Boseman received a posthumous Best Actor nod for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Viola Davis is up for Best Actress for her portrayal of the title character in the Netflix film that’s also up for Best Costume Design, Best Production Design and Best Makeup & Hairstyling. 

Regina King was left out of the running for Best Director, but her film, One Night in Miami, earned Leslie Odom, Jr. a nod for Best Supporting Actor, and “Speak Now,” his collab with Sam Ashworth, picked up a Best Original Song nomination. The film is also up for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

Andra Day is up for Best Actress for her starring turn as Billie Holiday in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and that’s quite an achievement for the singer, who hasn’t had much acting experience.  

Andra Day
Andra Day as Billie Holiday (Hulu)

Da 5 Bloods and Soul will compete for Best Original Score, and the animated film from Disney/PIXAR is also up for Best Sound and Best Animated Film alongside it’s other offering, Onward. 

Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s film project Crip Camp is nominated for Best Documentary, along with Garrett Bradley’s exquisite project, Time.  Netflix’s heart-wrenching doc A Love Song for Latasha earned a nom for Best Documentary Short. 

The Trial of the Chicago 7 earned six nods, making it another big contender at this year’s ceremony. 

It’s also a big year for women in the industry. Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) have been nominated for Best Director, marking the first time more than one woman has landed in the coveted category.

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Winners will be announced at the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, April 25. It will be televised live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Additional reporting by Cortney Wills

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