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List of 17 Black Actors and Actress Oscar Award Winners

Some black talents have made history in the Academy Awards for their coveted performances. There have been more records of blacks winning in the Best Supporting Actress acting category than others.

Hattie McDaniel was the first black person, and the first actress to have won an Oscar award since its inception in 1929 was Hattie McDaniel, while the first actor was Sidney Poitier.

Read through to see the list of African black actors and actresses to have won the Oscar Awards and their achievements.

1. Viola Davis

Viola Davis won her first Oscar Award in 2017 for Best Supporting Actress for the 2016 movie ‘Fences.’ In the film, she plays Rose Maxon, whose husband was a garbage man.

She was the first black actress to have received three Academy Award nominations, and she has received several other awards, including two Tony Awards and one Emmy.

Viola Davis earned her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 2008 for her role in Doubt. She has featured in many movies, winning 139 awards and 309 nominations.

2. Mahershala Ali

In 2017, Mahershala Ali won his first Oscar Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 2016 movie ‘Moonlight.’ In 2018, he won his second Oscar Award in the same category for the film Green Book.

In the Moonlight, he played Juan, a Miamian father that deals in drugs. Moonlight also won the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

Mahershala Ali bagged his second Oscar as Don Shirley, who plays piano at the ‘Green Book.’ The movie describes the lifestyle of black musicians in the 1960s.

He is the first black actor in Oscar Awards to have won for two times Best Supporting Actor.

3. Regina King

Regina King’s role in ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ of 2018 earned her the first Oscar Award as the Best Supporting Actress 2019.

In the movie ‘If Beale Street Could Talk,’ she played the character of Kiki Layne’s mother, assisting her daughter to vindicate her boyfriend against a false rape case.

Over the years in her acting career, she has won 59 awards and earned 107 nominations of different categories.

4. Octavia Spencer

The performances of Octavia Spencer in the 2011 film ‘The Help’ earned her the Oscar trophy of the Best Supporting Actress 2012, and she is the first black actress to win this category.

In the film ‘The Help,’ Octavia Spencer was Minni Jackson, a wise maid in Mississippi around 1960. Upon receiving her award, she called it ‘the hottest guy in the room.’

5. Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker won his Best Actor Oscar Award in 2007 for portraying Idi Amin, who was a dictatorial Ugandan president in the 2006 film ‘The Last King of Scotland.’

The Award was his first Academy award making him the fifth black actor to have won this category. Also, Forest Whitaker has won many other accolades in his career pursuit.

6. Mo’Nique

Mo’Nique won the Best Supporting Actress award for the 2009 Oscar awards. The actress earned the trophy for her character at the 2009 film ‘Precious.’

In the drama, she was a cruel mother, a character she so depicted well. She dedicated her award to the first black Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel in her acceptance speech.

7. Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong’o won her first Oscar as the Best Supporting Actress for her famous role in the 2013 ’12 Years a Slave’ in 2014.

The movie, which also won Best Picture, portrays Lupita as Patsey. Lupita Nyong’o is the third black actress to have won the Oscar in that category.

8. Jamie Foxx

In the history of Oscar Awards, the first black actor to have won a musical is Jamie Foxx, and he attained this feat for his performances at the ‘Ray’ in 2004.

The performance also won him the 2005 Best Actor in Oscar Awards. In the film, he was a renowned R&B singer.

9. Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman won his first Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2005 for the part he played in the 2014 drama ‘Million Dollar Baby.

In the drama, he was a retired boxer and a janitor. He has had three Oscar nominations before winning the 2005 trophy.

10. Louis Gossett Jr.

For Louis Gossett Jr.’s role in the movie ‘an Officer and a Gentleman’ in 1982, he won the Best Supporting Actor in 1982 after nomination. In the film, he is a cruel sergeant.

In Oscar history, Louis Gossett Jr. was the third black actor to win the Oscar and the first black to win the Best Supporting Actor.

11. Jennifer Hudson

The first black actress to win an Oscar in a musical film is Jennifer Hudson. The remarkable role she played in the 2006 ‘Dream Girl’ as Effie White earned her the Award of the Best Supporting Actress.

In the film, she was a member of a singing group and acted as their most forthright member. Recall that Jennifer Hudson was once an American Idol.

12. Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington has won two Oscar Awards, and the first was in 1989 for the movie ‘Glory’ while the second was in 2002 for his role at the 2001 ‘Training day.’

In the 1989 ‘Glory,’ he won the Best Supporting Actor and then won the 2002 Best Actor Oscar for playing Alonzo Harris, a dishonest police officer.

13. Halle Berry

The first and only black actress to bring home the Best Actress award in Oscar is Halle Berry. She obtained her Academy Award as Leticia Musgrove in the 2001 movie ‘Monster’s Ball.’

Halle Berry’s performance in the film was as a wretched woman who is in love with a racist security guard in prison.

14. Cuba Gooding Jr.

In the history of Oscar, Cuba Gooding Junior is the youngest black actor to win the Oscar at 29 years old. In Jerry Maguire, which was the movie that won him his Award, he played Rod Tidwell.

Rod Tidwell was a footballer, and his excellence in the role earned him the 1997 Oscar Best Supporting Actor.

15. Whoopi Goldberg

The overwhelming performances of Whoopi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown in the film ‘Ghost’ won her the 1991 Oscar as the Best Supporting Actress.

In the movie, she was funny and played exquisitely well as she helped a ghost murder, Patrick Swayze.

16. Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier became famous for his role as a Homer Smith in the 1963 film ‘Lillies of the Field,’ where he helped build a chapel for nuns.

That character earned him his nomination and won as the first black to win the Best Actor in the 1963 Oscar. In 2002, he also received a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award.

17. Hattie McDaniel

 Hattie McDaniel was the 1940 Oscar winner of the Best Supporting Actress. This win resulted from her performances as a slave in the 1939 ‘Gone with the Wind.’

She was the first African-American and the first black actress ever to win an Oscar, and her feat broke the stereotype of only whites winning the Oscar.


Since 1929, the Academy Awards started, there have been over 350 trophies available to actors and actresses.

Out of this figure, only 17 black actors and actresses have won these awards, winning 19 trophies in all. Some persons like Denzel Washington and Mahershala Ali have received more than one Award so far.

Ever since the first win in 1939, the blacks have received rewards for their exquisite performances in the theatre, among others.

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