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Congrats Cynthia Erivo! 12 Black Actresses to Receive an Oscar Nomination in the Best Actress in a Lead Role Category Ever

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angela bassett black actresses to receive an Oscar nomination

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Congratulations to Cynthia Erivo! She is one of 12 black actresses to receive an Oscar nomination in the Best Actress in a Lead role category.

Isn’t that a bit surprising? The Academy Awards are on their 91st year and this award is not as diverse in its nominations and wins. Okay…it is not that surprising that over the past 91 years, only 12 black actresses received an Oscar nomination in the Best Actress in a Lead Role category. As we celebrate Cynthia Erivo’s nod, check out the other black actresses to receive an Oscar nomination in that category below.


Dorothy Dandridge was the first of 12 black actresses to receive Oscar nomination in the Best Actress in a Lead Role category. Dandridge played the titular role in Carmen Jones when she received her nomination.

diana-ross black actresses to receive an Oscar nomination

In 1972 Diana Ross and Cicely Tyson made history. Both women received an Oscar nomination in the Best Actress in a Lead Role category.

Ross earned her nomination for her role as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. Also, she became the first black actress to receive a nomination for a debut film performance.

Also in 1972, Cicely Tyson was nominated in that category for her role as Rebecca Morgan in Sounder.

READ: 5 Actors Who Should’ve Passed on Their Controversial Roles

Two years later in 1974, Diahann Carroll became the fourth black actress to receive an Oscar nomination in Best Actress in a Lead Role category for her titular role in Claudine.

In 1985, Whoopi Goldberg was nominated for her role as Celie Johnson in The Color Purple.

angela bassett black actresses to receive an Oscar nomination

Angela Basset’s lead role as Tina Turner in 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do with It earned her an Oscar nod.

halle berry black actresses to receive an Oscar nomination

In 2001 Halle Berry became the seventh black actress to receive an Oscar Nomination in the Best Actress in a Lead Role category and the first to win. She won for her role as Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball.

READ: 23 of Whoopi Goldberg’s Most Notable Movies — How Many Have You Seen?

In 2009 Gabourey Sidibe received an Oscar nod in the Best Actress in a Lead category. She also became the second black actress to receive a nod in their debut film performance. She was nominated for her role as Claireece “Precious” Jones in Precious.

In 2011,  Viola Davis received an Oscar nomination in the Best Actress in a Lead role category. She played Aibileen Clark in The Help.

In 2012, Quvenzhané Wallis became the 10th black actress to receive an Oscar nomination in the Best Actress in a Lead Role category. Wallis, who was 9 at the time, became the youngest black actress to be nominated. And, her nomination stemmed from her role as Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

ruth negga black actresses to receive an Oscar nomination

Ruth Negga received an Oscar nomination for her role as Mildred Loving in the 2016 film Loving.

This year Cynthia Erivo received Oscar nod in the Best Actress in a Lead Role category. She received that for her titular role as Harriet Tubman in Harriet.

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