Davis, who won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for “Fences” in 2017, was tied with Octavia Spencer, with three nominations, until her name was called for the Best Actress category Monday as the title character in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” That also makes her the first Black woman to earn two Best Actress nominations, said Netflix, which released the screen adaptation of the August Wilson play.
Whoopi Goldberg is the only other female Black actor with multiple nods, winning Best Supporting Actress for “Ghost” in 1991 after a Best Actress nomination for “The Color Purple” in 1986, Entertainment Weekly noted.
“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,” Davis told Variety weeks before the big day.
Davis has repeatedly called out the racial divide in Hollywood. Her “pay me what I’m worth” plea for equality at a 2018 Women in the World once again went viral last summer.
“I have to get on that phone and people say you’re a Black Meryl Streep. There is no one like you,” she said. “OK, then if there’s no one like me, you think I’m that, you pay me what I’m worth.”
On the men’s side, Denzel Washington has collected a record eight acting nomination Oscars, along with two victories, according to EW.
Both Davis and her late “Ma Rainey’s” co-star Chadwick Boseman will be chasing history in the Best Actress and Best Actor categories.
The last (and only) Black Best Actress winner was Halle Berry for “Monster’s Ball” in 2002. The last for the men was Forest Whitaker for “The Last King of Scotland” in 2007.