Black actors make history with Oscar nominations

Colman Domingo, Jeffrey Wright, and more earned nominations this year for their work in various films.

Rustin. Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin. Cr. David Lee/Netflix © 2023

The 96th Annual Academy Award nominations are here, with some of the greatest performances and work in cinema taking center stage ahead of the highly anticipated night. From powerful biopic turns like Colman Domingo in “Rustin” to Danielle Brooks’ new take on the beloved “The Color Purple” character Sofia, we’re breaking down the biggest nominations we’ve got our eyes on ahead of March’s ceremony.

Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin in “Rustin.” (Photo by David Lee/Netflix © 2023)

Colman Domingo’s history-making nomination

Congratulations are in order for Domingo, who not only joins the ranks of actors like Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, and more as a Black actor nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role, but also makes history as the first openly gay Black man nominated for playing a gay character. As the New York Times reported, the only other openly gay actor to earn a nomination for an openly gay role is Ian McKellen, who was nominated for his work in 1998’s “Gods and Monsters.”

Domingo also makes history as the first Afro-Latino to earn a Best Actor nomination, per Variety. The “Rustin” actor was recently spotted at the Sundance Film Festival, where a film he executive produced, “It’s What’s Inside,” premiered and was swiftly sold to Netflix, per Variety.

“American Fiction” appears in multiple categories

“American Fiction” fans were in for a treat when the nominations were announced Tuesday morning. Writer-director Cord Jefferson’s feature film debut earned five nominations, including a nod in the coveted Best Picture category. Jeffrey Wright, who stars in the film as Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, earned a nomination for Best Actor, while Sterling K. Brown earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Both are first-time nominations for the actors.

Los Angeles Special Screening Of Amazon And MGM Studios' "American Fiction" - Arrivals
Erika Alexander, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jeffrey Wright, Percival Everett, Cord Jefferson, Sterling K. Brown, and John Ortiz attend the Los Angeles special screening of Amazon and MGM Studios’ “American Fiction” at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Dec. 5, 2023, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images) Credit: Photo byAmy Sussman / Getty Images

Jefferson’s screenplay earned a nomination in the Adapted Screenplay category, while the film’s score received a Best Original Score nomination for Laura Karpman’s work in the film.

Two Black Best Supporting Actress contenders

The Best Supporting Actress category features two standout performances from this year. Brooks, whose turn as Sofia in “The Color Purple” earned her rave reviews on Broadway and in the new musical film adaptation, has earned the actress her first Oscar nomination.

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Da’Vine Joy Randolph appears in the same category for her work in “The Holdovers.” As theGrio previously reported, Randolph has earned praise from various critics circles and award bodies for taking on the role of Mary Lamb in Alexander Payne’s quiet and moving feature, and it seems her momentum has led her all the way to the Oscars.

Be on the lookout for an upcoming episode of “Acting Up” with Cortney Wills, as Randolph is set to appear.

The Oscars are currently set to air Sunday, March 10.

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