In its 94-year-long history, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has bestowed an Oscar, one the industry’s most coveted acting awards, to just 10 Black women. This year, actor Angela Bassett could become the 11th name on that short list, continuing a legacy that began with trailblazing performer and Hollywood legend Hattie McDaniel in 1940.
Bassett is nominated for Best Supporting Actress, the same category in which McDaniel won for her role in the 1939 adaptation of Gone with the Wind. McDaniel’s story has become synonymous with a long, complicated battle in Hollywood for equitable consideration and proper respect for the careers of Black performers. It’s a pursuit that represents a reality yet to be seen, often glossed over by the victorious, hope-inspiring moments, like McDaniel’s Oscar win.