"We were led to think that once the Oscars go kinda-black they can never walk all the means back," Bell write in one essay for THR ~ above the 74th Academy Awards, wherein Sidney Poitier likewise was honored and also Whoopi Goldberg hosted.

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This story very first appeared in the march 4 problem of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click right here to subscribe.

The year was 2002. It to be the blackest Academy Awards in history. And that record-breaking blackness boiled down to the number four. Just 4 African-Americans, and also that year’s Oscars was talked about like it to be the NAACP photo Awards. Denzel Washington won best actor for Training Day. Do Berry won finest actress because that Monster’s Ball. Sidney Poitier obtained an Honorary Oscar for a lifetime of gift Sidney Poitier. (Why the took until 2002 is worth a Michael Moore full-length documentary.) and also the totality evening was held by Lady EGOT herself, Whoopi Goldberg. And yes, like a late-night infomercial, there to be more. Will certainly Smith to be nominated for Ali, and also … Well, actually, i think the was pretty lot it, unless I’m absent a black color sound impacts editor or something. However the traditional wisdom coming the end of that tiny tsunami of blackness was the this was the start of a sea change. We were led to believe that as soon as the Oscars go kinda-black the they could never walk all the method back. However go back they did. The complying with year, the only hint the blackness to be Queen Latifah’s finest supporting actress nomination because that the music Chicago — and additionally the film the won for best foreign-language film called Nowhere in Africa, a German movie that was in no-way about Africans. (Of food it was about white human being in Africa.)


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There was no sea readjust after 2002. Simply like plainly there to be no sea readjust after 12 year a Slave won in 2014. Right here we space again two short years later rebooting #OscarsSoWhite. And all of this is in preparation for the “Great Nate Parker-ing of 2017,” once his movie The bear of a Nation is sure to it is in lauded as the start of a brand-new era that the Academy’s acknowledgment the diversity in film. And also I don’t see that happening, no without a rebellion similar to the one shown in his film.

And while we space talking diversity and also Oscar winners, in spite of the fact that many words have actually been written around how the fastest route to Oscar gold is playing a person with disabilities, every time the Marlee Matlin is through herself, she is having a reunion that every life actor through disabilities that has ever won an Academy Award. The other person is dead. Damn.

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Goldberg earned mixed reviews as host.

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“Y’ALL THREW united state A BONE”

In the year of #OscarsSoWhite, it can seem preposterous come think of a time when there were jokes around the ubiquity of African-American gibbs nominated for Academy Awards. Yet it occurred at the 2002 Oscars. In her opened monologue, Whoopi Goldberg — hosting because that the 3rd time — cracked of the Oscar campaigning, “So much mud has actually been thrown this year, all the nominees look black.”

But what was hailed as a historic moment because that African-Americans in the movie industry was correct met with some skepticism. Here, figures behind the telecast and also some that Hollywood’s height black stars and also creators recall the night the was supposed to adjust everything.

AUNJANUE ELLIS (Actress, Quantico) to do Berry was incredibly brave in what she did. To obtain validated by the Oscar win, the felt affirming.


COURTNEY KEMP (Executive producer, Power) the was a transformative moment for me as a black color woman due to the fact that she talked in she speech about the shoulders she stood on. It to be wonderful.

DANIELLE NICOLET (Actress, The Game) as a young actress, the meant everything to see someone who looked prefer me to win an award that wasn’t for playing a servant or a housekeeper. To watch Halle Berry up there for the movie — which was so dark and also so outside of what you usually see African-American actors play in films — to be inspiring.

BRUCE VILANCH (Writer, Oscar broadcast) Going right into the show, Russell Crowe was kind of favored to victory for A Beautiful Mind. Ns think he had actually some incident — <he gained into a physical altercation through a BBC executive after the BAFTA awards> — and also it may have actually tilted in Denzel’s favor.

LEEZA GIBBONS (Co-host, Oscar preshow) Denzel claimed in the media room the wasn’t thinking of his win in terms of history, however his win produced a touching moment where everyone might sense how much things had come and also how much they had actually to go.

Since 2002, 7 black actors have actually won Oscars (Jamie Foxx, forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, Mo’Nique, Octavia Spencer, Lupita Nyong’o and Morgan Freeman), and 12 years a Slave, a movie v a black writer and also a black color director, won ideal pic­ture in 2014. But more than ever, the 2002 occasion seems like an aberration.

ADRIENNE MOORE (Actress, Orange Is the brand-new Black) ns remember watching it, and there was an undertone of, “Y’all threw united state a bone so us won’t complain.”

JOE MORTON (Actor, Scandal) i was very happy all of that happened, but I psychic the next day I checked out the store and also the woman behind the counter said, “It to be a great night because that you civilization last night.” and also I said, “I don’t know about ‘us people,’ however it to be a good night for those four individuals.”

KEMP The diversity controversy isn’t just about this year — it’s around a totality bunch the years and also movement.

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SIDNEY POITIER (Actor) You have to understand what an important moment that was. We are all still looking for an essential acceptance.