Oscar Rewind: 8 Black Actresses & The Roles That Deserved an Oscar

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February 23, 2012 ‐ By

The Academy Awards are on Sunday! With Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer getting a lot of love for their work in The Help, we hope that it will be an easy win from them on the big day (but you know how the Academy can play folks). While we’re happy for their accolades, we’d also like to acknowledge a few other actresses whose roles should have garnered a lot more love from the allegedly majority white, male, old guys in the Academy. Just on a side note, some of these ladies weren’t even nominated, but their performances deserved some recognition in our eyes. These are just a few of our favorite picks, but feel free to share your own faves in the comments.

Source: neebeep.com

Whoopi Goldberg as Celie in The Color Purple

Lost to: Geraldine Page in The Trip to Bountiful

Not to stereotype, but I’m pretty sure most black folks have seen The Color Purple. While we can all attest to the fact that Steven Spielberg’s attempt to bring Alice Walker’s book to life was masterful, it got no love from the Academy, folks. It did rack up 11 nominations, but wound up being the “India Arie” (as Common would say) of the ’85 ceremonies, going home empty handed. While Oprah did transform big time in front of our eyes, presenting herself in a way we hadn’t seen before, I felt as though Whoopi gave a consistent and courageous performance as Celie. She went from a meek, abused an unloved wife, to an outspoken, pants wearing free woman. Whoopi would go on later to win an Academy Award for her work in the film Ghost, so I’m sure she’s not too pissed about this robbery.

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  • laj_111

    I believe Diana Ross playing Billie Holiday should have won an Oscar. Her performance was outstanding in each role as a i.e. young girl, singer, heroin addict, woman in love etc. The movie displayed i.e. black discrimination in the entertainment industry, her moms struggle as a maid not having the luxury of raising her daughter, the introduction of drugs to entertainers to maintain the rigid schedule of a performaner, the unforgiving attitude of the industry at that time if you were convicted of a felony as a entertainer, the love and support by her lover etc.   

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4LOANJOSLNPJXRMHLAI2OQTSJY StatusNo

    Funny how none of these women started out as nothing but broken. Why would the Academy award such stereotypical negativity? Of course it helps if she sleeps with a white man. Just ask Halle.

  • J720

    Whoopi Goldberg without a doubt this was her
    debut and she nailed the part. Whoopi deserved to have won an Oscar.
    Twenty-seven years later The Color Purple is still as powerful as it was when it
    first hit the big screen.

  • J720

    I agree she should have been nominated, hell she should have won an Oscar. Regina King is an excellent actress. I just love her work.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CTXSNDVGISO4AVM6JUHVEB4SG4 P

    When The Color Purple was passed over for the English Patient I was undone.  The English Patient was a good movie but didn’t hold a candle to the performances of Whoppie, Oprah, Danny and the rest of the cast of The Color Purple.  

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  • http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSapphireEmpress96?feature=mhee A.J.

    I’m gonna go a little old school with some of these:
    Louise Beavers in “Imitation of Life”
    Cicely Tyson in “Sounder”
    Dorothy Dandridge in “Carmen Jones”
    Angela Bassett in “Waiting to Exhale” & “Malcolm X”
    Jada Pinkett in “Bamboozled”
    Viola Davis in “Doubt”
    Alfre Woodard in “Holiday Heart”
    Diahann Carroll in “Claudine”
    Ruby Dee in “A Raisin In The Sun”
    Sanaa Lathan in “Love & Basketball”
    and Anika Noni Rose should have gotten something for “The Princess and The Frog”
        I agree with most of the people here, with the exception of Thandie Newton.  I’ve never been all that crazy about her acting skills.  She’s either too intense or too mellow. 

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSapphireEmpress96?feature=mhee A.J.

    I’m gonna go a little old school with some of these:
    Louise Beavers in “Imitation of Life”
    Cicely Tyson in “Sounder”
    Dorothy Dandridge in “Carmen Jones”
    Angela Bassett in “Waiting to Exhale” & “Malcolm X”
    Jada Pinkett in “Bamboozled”
    Viola Davis in “Doubt”
    Alfre Woodard in “Holiday Heart”
    Diahann Carroll in “Claudine”
    Ruby Dee in “A Raisin In The Sun”
    Sanaa Lathan in “Love & Basketball”
    and Anika Noni Rose should have gotten something for “The Princess and The Frog”
        I agree with most of the people here, with the exception of Thandie Newton.  I’ve never been all that crazy about her acting skills.  She’s either too intense or too mellow. 

  • Orleanas

    Thandie Newton is not an effective actress. I find her bland and one note, really, so I don’t think she was robbed by not getting nominated for Crash. That movie does not hold up well, actually.

  • prissa

    DIANA ROSS IN LADY SINGS THE BLUES.
    She PLAYED that role honey!!!

  • cake211

    I’ve ALWAYS felt that Regina King got shafted! She was PHENOMENAL, some of the best acting ever. 
    Also, I find it so hard to believe that Angela Bassett has STILL not won an Oscar. She is one of the best actresses ever IMO. Yall were on point with this. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/goldensunshine1 Chris Nelson

    What got me was that the song from Hustle & Flow got a Grammy, but Henson didn’t. Talk about slap in the face.

  • LoveObama

    Lynn Whitfield or Jurnee Smollet for the movie Eve’s Bayou. 
    Great movie!!!

    • SOULPOETIC05

      THANK YOU! I LOVE THAT MOVIE. SO UNDERRATED

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  • Coco

    Halle Berry, Losing Isiah

    • cake211

      YES!!!!! I think it’s a SHAME that her role in that film is rarely ever mentioned!! I never believed she could act until I saw Losing Isaiah (and Queenie). I think she gets shafted because she is a beautiful woman, and that seems to be the only reason she is ever recognized in the film industry. She is more than just a beautiful woman, but I guess Hollywood only wants vixens and mammies.

  • NikkitaMichelle

    I think the only reason Whoopi got an Oscar for Ghost is because they looked her over for the Color Purple. She was wonderful in the picture and pretty unknown back then.

  • Awycoff

    The performances awarded are typically mammies, maids and prostitutes.  Multi-dimensional characters with depth, intelligence, strength are completely ignored.  All of the women in For Colored Girls were phenomenal.

  • Mailbox88

    Oprah was actually the better actress to me in Color Purple. Thandie is NOT a great actress to me. Sandra Bullock should’ve won for being a racist b*ch in Crash instead of Blind Side. Blind Side was just a little too cheesy of a movie for me and her blond hair didn’t work for me either. 

  • mello

    Lisa Raye as Diamond in Player’s Club..lol..j/p

  • li

    If Viola Davis winner this year, the Academy us assuaging their gully of robbing her for Doubt.

    It is sad that black women can only win for playing doormats/props/the help (Goldberg, though making up for The Color Purple), the help (likely Davis, McDaniel), whores (Berry), and terribly cruel (Mo’Nique).

  • IllyPhilly

    Sorry, but Kimberly Elise plays the same damn character over and over from Set It Off to For Colored Girls. A damn victim.

  • 10333rd

    The whole Color Purple thing is still a shock.  Even so, I read just this year in a news piece that the majority of Academy voters are white men.  I think that has a lot to do with it.  (I am a white man, by the way).  I also think it has a lot to do with why Brokeback Mountain was denied Best Picture in 2005 after winning every single other major award (Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA, etc.).  The only award it did NOT receive was the Oscar.  A fluke?  I don’t think so.  Hollywood, at least behind the scenes, is no nearly as open-minded and progressive as we’d like to think.  It’s sad.  I also believe Viola Davis and Angela Bassett were totally robbed.  Just saying.  

  • Samantha

    Denzel in John Q

  • Darling

     I agree! Too bad they weren’t playing maids.    Diana Ross in Mahogany is missing.

  • Indya Jackson

    What about Viola Davis in Doubt? Anybody????

    • Goddess8281

      Yes, Doubt was excellent.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FGCAQMB2QAMLXDCDIXVDZWCA64 guitara

    Hello,  Diana Ross and Cicely Tyson !!

    • NikkitaMichelle

      Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues.

  • Squeezablechic

    Angela Bassett also in Waiting to Exhale. She’s a phenomenal actress.

  • Janee

    I agree with this post so much!! It throws me back every time I think about the fact Angela Bassett still does not have an Oscar! The fact that The Color Purple got that many noms and walked away with nothing still makes me mad! That’s like a huge slap in the face. Also, For Colored Girls and Precious were brilliant! It’s a shame Precious didn’t win and an even bigger shame that NO ONE in For Colored Girls was even nominated for an Oscar. Rude!