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Minority Oscar Winners in Major Acting Categories

In 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed for a second consecutive year to nominate any African-American actors in the major acting categories, prompting director Spike Lee and actor Jada Pinkett Smith to call for a boycott of the 2016 ceremony. While the Academy has snubbed highly talented minority artists in recent years, Oscar has not always displayed such a lack of diversity, previously honoring a number of deserving minority actors with statues. Take a look at previous winners.

Jennie Wood
Hattie McDaniel
Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Gone with the Wind, 1939
Hattie McDaniel
Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Academy Award. She was also the first African-American to be nominated in an acting category. On the night she won, McDaniel and her escort were seated at a segregated table for two, away from her fellow Gone with the Wind cast members. Two months earlier, McDaniel wasn't allowed to attend the premiere of Gone with the Wind in Atlanta, GA due to Georgia's segregationist laws. Winning an Oscar at that time was an extraordinary achievement.
Photo source: AP Photo
José Ferrer
Best Actor in a Leading Role for Cyrano de Bergerac, 1950
Jose Ferrer
José Ferrer became the first Puerto Rican-born actor to win an Oscar. Ferrer was also nominated in 1948 for Joan of Arc, and for Moulin Rouge in 1952.
Photo source: AP Photo
Anthony Quinn
Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Viva Zapata!, 1952, and Lust for Life, 1956
Anthony Quinn
When Anthony Quinn won his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1956, he became the first Mexican-born actor to win two Oscars in the same category. Quinn was also nominated for Best Actor twice, in 1957 for Wild Is the Wind, and in 1964 for Zorba the Greek.
Photo source: AP Photo
Rita Moreno
Best Actress in a Supporting Role for West Side Story, 1962
Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno became the first Hispanic-American to win an Oscar. She won for the iconic role, Anita, in the film adaptation of the Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim musical, West Side Story. Moreno is one of twelve artists who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. She was the second Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award.
Photo source: AP Photo
Sidney Poitier
Best Actor in a Leading Role for Lilies of the Field, 1963
Sidney Poitier
When Sidney Poitier won in 1963, he became the first African-American male to win an Oscar. He also became the first actor to receive two acting nominations, having previously been nominated for The Defiant Ones in 1958.
Photo source: AP Photo
Sacheen Littlefeather for Marlon Brando
Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Godfather, 1972
Sashim Littlefeather
At the 1973 Academy Awards, Marlon Brando refused his Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather. Dressed in Apache attire, Sacheen Littlefeather stood in for him at the ceremony and announced that due to the "poor treatment of the Native Americans in the film industry," Brando would not be accepting the award. Littlefeather's announcement came during the standoff at Wounded Knee and received international media attention.
Photo source: AP Photo
Louis Gossett, Jr.
Best Actor in a Leading Role for An Officer and a Gentleman, 1982
Louis Gossett, Jr.
Louis Gossett Jr. became the first African-American to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role of Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in 1982's An Officer and a Gentleman. He also won an Emmy in 1977 for his role as Fiddler in the television miniseries Roots.
Photo source: AP Photo
Whoopi Goldberg
Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Ghost, 1990
Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg became the second African-American actress to win the Best Supporting Oscar, the first since McDaniel in 1939. She also became the first African-American actress to receive two acting nominations overall. She had been previously nominated for Best Lead Actress for The Color Purple in 1985.
Photo source: AP Photo/ Bob Galbraith
Mercedes Ruehl
Best Actress in a Supporting Role, 1991
Mercedes Ruehl
Mercedes Ruehl became the first Cuban-American to win an Academy Award for her role in The Fisher King. Ruehl also won a Tony for Lost in Yonkers that same year.
Photo source: AP Photo/Bob Galbraith
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Jerry Maguire, 1996
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Cuba Gooding, Jr. became the youngest African-American actor to win an Academy Award. He was 29 at the time. He has also appeared in Selma, Boyz n the Hood, A Few Good Men, and As Good as It Gets.
Photo source: AP Photo/Reed Saxon
Benicio del Toro
Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Traffic, 2000
Benicio del Toro
The year Benicio del Toro won for Traffic, Joaquin Phoenix was also nominated in the same category, marking the first time that two actors born in Puerto Rico were nominated simultaneously. Two years later, del Toro was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for 21 Grams.
Photo source: AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian
Halle Berry and Denzel Washington
Best Actress in a Lead Role for Monster's Ball, 2001
Best Actor in a Lead Role for Training Day, 2001
Halle Berry Denzel Washington Oscars
Halle Berry and Denzel Washington became the first two African-American performers to win Oscars for leading roles in the same year. Washington became the second African-American to win Best Actor since Poitier in 1963. With her win, Berry was the first African-American woman to win Best Lead Actress.
Photo source: AP Photo/Doug Mills
Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman, 2005
Best Actor in a Lead Role for Ray, 2004
Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Million Dollar Baby, 2004
Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman
Jamie Foxx became the first African-American actor to receive two nominations in acting categories in the same year. He won Best Actor for his protrayl of Ray Charles in Ray. He lost in the supporting category to Morgan Freeman who won for his role as Eddie 'Scrap-Iron' Dupris in Million Dollar Baby. Age 67 at the time, Freeman became the oldest African-American actor to win an Oscar.
Photo source: AP Photo/Reed Saxon
Forest Whitaker
Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Last King of Scotland, 2006
Forest Whitaker
For his role as the Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, in 2006's The Last King of Scotland, Forest Whitaker won the Oscar, Golden Globe, British Academy Film Award, Nation Board of Review Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and many others. He has also appeared in Lee Daniels' The Butler, Bird, The Crying Game, and Platoon.
Photo source: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Jennifer Hudson
Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Dreamgirls, 2006
Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson came in seventh place on the third season of American Idol in 2004. Three years later she would take home an Oscar at the 2007 ceremony, becoming the first African-American actor (male or female) to win an Academy Award for a debut film performance. For her star turn as Effie White in 2006's Dreamgirls, Hudson would also become the first African-American actress to win an Academy Award for a musical film. Age 25 at the time, she was also the youngest actor (male or female) to win an Oscar.
Photo source: AP Photo/Chris Carlson
Javier Bardem
Best Actor in a Supporting Role for No Country for Old Men, 2007
Javier Bardem
Javier Bardem became the first Spanish actor to be nominated for an Oscar in 2000 for Before Night Falls. So it's only fitting that he became the first Spanish actor to win one for 2007's No Country for Old Men. Bardem has also won five Goya Awards, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, the Best Actor prize at Cannes, and many more awards. He is married to fellow Oscar winner Penelope Cruz.
Photo source: AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian
Penelope Cruz
Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, 2008
Penelope Cruz
The year following her Oscar win, Penelope Cruz was nominated again in the Best Supporting Actress category for Nine, becoming the first Spanish actor to be nominated twice in the same category. With her 2008 win she became the first Spanish actress to win an Academy Award. She was also the first Spanish actress to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2006, Cruz was nominated for Best Actress in a Lead Role for Volver, becoming the second person to be nominated for a Spanish film. Cathalina Sandino Moreno was the first for 2004's Maria Full of Grace.
Photo source: AP Photo/Evan Agostini
Mo'Nique
Best Actress in a Support Role for Precious, 2009
Monique
Stand-up comedian Mo'Nique received critical acclaim and an Oscar for taking on the serious role of Mary Lee Johnston, the abusive mother in Precious. The film was the second to have African-American nominees in both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories. 1985's The Color Purple was the first.
Photo source: AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Octavia Spencer, 2012
Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Help, 2011
Octavia Spencer
Octavia Spencer won for portrayal of Minny Jackson in 2011's The Help, the third film to have African-American actresses nominated in both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories. Spencer also won the Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG, and Critics' Choice awards for the role.
Photo source: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Lupita Nyong'o
Best Actress in a Supporting Role for 12 Years a Slave, 2013
Lupita Nyongo
Lupita Nyong'o became the first Kenyan actress and the first Mexican actress to win an Academy Award. When she took home the Oscar at the 2014 ceremony, she also became the first black African to win in any category. Born in Mexico, Nyong'o was raised in Kenya and has dual citizenship. In 2015, she starred in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Maz Kanata in a CGI/Motion-Capture performance.
Photo source: John Shearer/Invision/AP, File

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