Superstar actress, Viola Davies who received her fourth Oscar nomination on Monday March 15, has become the most nominated Black actress in the history of the Academy Awards.
The 55-year-old performer received her fourth career acting nomination for her work as the titular character in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Davies boasts of four career Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actress for “Doubt,” Best Supporting Actress for “Fences,” Best Actress for “The Help,” and Best Actress for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Davis won the Oscar for “Fences.”
Prior to the 2021 Oscar nominations announcement, the actress had been tied with friend and co-star Octavia Spencer as the most Oscar-nominated Black actress in history.
Outside of Davis and Spencer, Whoopi Goldberg is the only other Black actress with more than one competitive Oscar nomination. Goldberg was nominated for Best Actress with “The Color Purple” and won Best Supporting Actress with “Ghost.” The late Cicely Tyson has an honorary Academy Award, given to her in 2018, and a Best Actress nomination for “Sounder.”
The most-nominated Black performer of all time remains Denzel Washington, who has eight Oscar nominations (including two wins) as an actor atop a nomination for Best Picture for his work producing Fences. Morgan Freeman follows with five nominations (including one win) to date.
In an interview with Variety last month, Davis expressed bittersweet emotions over the prospect of becoming the most-nominated Black actress in Oscars history.
“For me, it’s a reflection of the lack of opportunities and access to opportunities people of color have had in this business. If me, going back to the Oscars four times in 2021, makes me the most nominated Black actress in history, that’s a testament to the sheer lack of material there has been out there for artists of color.
“There are a lot of white actresses out there, who are fairly young — in their 20s or 30s, who have been to the Academy Awards just as many times as me or more than me.
“It is a reflection of their talent — but it’s also a reflection of their opportunities. That’s what it is. It’s a reflection of how they had the chance — those three, four or five roles that were so good that brought them to that place. [Being a Black actress] is like having a fabulous body, but not having the right clothes to show it off.”