These are the actors and actresses of African descent who have won the Academy Award for acting in American films.
Hattie McDaniel, Best Supporting Actress – 1939, first African-American person to win an Academy Award; for her performance as Mammy in “Gone With the Wind.” Producer David O. Selznick nominated McDaniel for the award and had to call in a special favor so she could attend the 12th Academy Awards ceremony at the Coconut Grove nightclub in the Ambassador Hotel, which had a “no black people” policy.
James Baskett, Honorary Oscar – 1948, for “his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and story teller to the children of the world in “Walt Disney’s Song of the South” – first Academy Award for a Black man.
Sidney Poitier, Best Actor – 1964, first black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his role of Homer Smith in “Lilies of the Field.” Refusing to play stereotypical roles related to his race, he was a trailblazer and staple in the Hollywood film industry.
Louis Gossett Jr., Best Supporting Actor – 1983, first African-American male to win Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, for the role of Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
Denzel Washington, Best Supporting Actor – 1990, for playing Pvt. Trip in “Glory,” became the first African-American actor to receive two Best Supporting Actor nominations, also 1987 for “Cry Freedom.”
Whoopi Goldberg, Best Supporting Actress – 1991, for her role as Oda Mae Brown in “Ghost” became the first African-American actress to receive two acting nominations; the first for Best Actress in 1985’s “The Color Purple.”
Cuba Gooding Jr., Best Supporting Actor – 1997, youngest African-American male actor to win (age 29), for his role as Rod Tidwell in “Jerry Maguire.”
Sidney Poitier, Honorary Award – 2001, “for his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence.”
Halle Berry, Best Actress – 2002, first African-American to win Best Actress, for playing Leticia Musgrove in “Monster’s Ball.”
Denzel Washington, Best Actor – 2002, his second Oscar, for his role in “Training Day.”
Jamie Foxx, Best Actor – 2005, for his portrayal of Ray Charles in the film “Ray.”
Morgan Freeman, Best Supporting Actor – 2005, for his role as Eddie ‘Scrap-Iron’ Dupris in “Million Dollar Baby,” the oldest African-American actor to win.
Forest Whitaker, Best Actor – 2006, for his portrayal of Ugandan president Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland.”
Jennifer Hudson, Best Supporting Actress – 2007, first African-American actress to win for debut performance, also youngest black actor or actress to win; for playing Effie White in “Dreamgirls.”
Mo’Nique, Best Supporting Actress – 2010, for playing Mary Lee Johnston in “Precious.”
James Earl Jones – Honorary Award – 2011, for “his legacy of consistent excellence and uncommon versatility.”
Octavia Spencer, Best Supporting Actress – 2012, for her role as Minny Jackson in “The Help.”
Lupita Nyong’o – Best Supporting Actress – 2013, for her role as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave,” Kenyan-born, the first black African nominated and to win.