35 Black Actors Who Won The Oscars

2017 was the most diverse year for the Oscars: in that year alone, five black artists were included in the winners' list. But things haven't always been like this. Today we honor all the talented black artists who have taken home the much-desired golden statuette, sometimes more than once.

Image Credits: Getty Images | Actor Mahershala Ali

Image Credits: Getty Images | Actor Mahershala Ali


1. Hattie McDaniel (1940)

Hattie McDaniel made history back in 1940 by becoming the first black actress to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress following her performance as Mammy in the epic movie "Gone with the Wind." As a daughter of two former slaves, the award had an even more special significance for her.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | Actress Hattie Mc Daniel is shown with the statuette she received for her portrayal in "Gone With The Wind."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | Actress Hattie Mc Daniel is shown with the statuette she received for her portrayal in "Gone With The Wind."


2. Octavia Spencer (2012)

Actress Octavia Spencer won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2012 for her role as Minny Jackson in "The Help." Not only did she beat her co-star Jessica Chastain but also Melissa McCarthy ("Bridesmaids"), Janet McTeer ("Albert Nobbs"), Berenice Bejo ("The Artist"). She went on to thank Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider from Dreamworks, for "changing my life."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jason Merritt | Actress Octavia Spencer, winner of the Best Supporting Actress Award for 'The Help'

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jason Merritt | Actress Octavia Spencer, winner of the Best Supporting Actress Award for 'The Help'


3. Morgan Freeman (2004)

After four nominations, Morgan Freeman finally won his much-deserved award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris in Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby." During his acceptance speech, he thanked all those involved and referred to the movie as "a labor of love."

Image Credits: Getty Images / M. Caulfield/WireImage | Morgan Freeman accepting his award

Image Credits: Getty Images / M. Caulfield/WireImage | Morgan Freeman accepting his award


4. Sidney Poitier (1963)

Just like Hattie McDaniel, actor Sidney Poitier also made history by being the first black actor to win the Oscar for Best Actor for his role as Homer Smith in the 1963 movie "Lilies of the Field." He beat Albert Finney ("Tom Jones"), Richard Harris ("This Sporting Life"), Rex Harrison ("Cleopatra"), and Paul Newman ("Hud").

Image Credits: Getty Images / Archive Photos | Bahamian American actor Sidney Poitier holding his Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role

Image Credits: Getty Images / Archive Photos | Bahamian American actor Sidney Poitier holding his Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role


5. Louis Gossett Jr. (1982)

Following McDaniel and Poitier, Louis Gossett Jr. also made his way into movie history by being the first black actor to with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Gunnery Sgt Emil Foley in the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman." He dedicated his award to all his other competitors, Charles Durning, James Mason, John Lithgow, and Robert Preston.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives | Actor Louis Gossett, Jr. poses backstage after he wins "Best Supporting Actor" award

Image Credits: Getty Images / Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives | Actor Louis Gossett, Jr. poses backstage after he wins "Best Supporting Actor" award


6. Denzel Washington (1990 & 2002)

Denzel Washington is the only black actor to have won more than one Oscar. His first Oscar came in 1990 for his supporting role as Pct. Trip in the movie "Glory" and his second in 2002 for his lead role in "Training Day." In 1990, while accepting his award, Washington jokingly said that his son now had a real model to build a clay one out of.

Image Credits: Getty Images | Denzel Washington next to Julia Roberts

Image Credits: Getty Images | Denzel Washington next to Julia Roberts


7. Whoopi Goldberg (1991)

After two nominations, actress Whoopi Goldberg finally took home the Oscar for her performance as Oda Mae Brown in the movie "Ghost," starring opposite Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. While accepting the award, Goldberg talked about how she was finally fulfilling a childhood dream. "Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted this," she said.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection | Whoopi Goldberg holding her Oscar

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection | Whoopi Goldberg holding her Oscar


8. Cuba Gooding Jr. (1996)

In 1996, Cuba Gooding Jr's enthusiastic acceptance speech for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar almost overshadowed his performance as the flamboyant football player Rod Tidwell in "Jerry McGuire." After thanking his wife and all the people involved in the movie, he jumped up and down several times while saying, "I love you!"

Image Credits: Getty Images / Steve Starr/CORBIS | Best Supporting actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. holds the Oscar he won for his role in Jerry Maguire

Image Credits: Getty Images / Steve Starr/CORBIS | Best Supporting actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. holds the Oscar he won for his role in Jerry Maguire


9. Halle Berry (2002)

2002 was definitely one of the most racially diverse years at the Oscars. Not only did Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington came out winners (Poitier with an honorary Oscar), but also actress Halle Berry managed to go home with a golden statuette in her hands. Berry won the award for Best Actress for her role as Leticia Musgrove in "Monster's Ball."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Getty Images | Oscar Winner Halle Berry Winner Accepts The Best Actress Academy Award For Her Performance In The Film "Monster's Ball"

Image Credits: Getty Images / Getty Images | Oscar Winner Halle Berry Winner Accepts The Best Actress Academy Award For Her Performance In The Film "Monster's Ball"


10. Jamie Foxx (2005)

In 2005 Jamie Foxx took the stage to accept his Oscar for Best Actor for his leading role in the movie "Ray." He began by singing into the microphone and inviting the audience to join him and then proceeded to thank his daughter, "I wanna thank my daughter who told me before I got up here, if you don't win dad, you're still good."

Image Credits: Getty Images | Jamie Foxx with his daughter

Image Credits: Getty Images | Jamie Foxx with his daughter


11. Forest Whitaker (2007)

A very overwhelmed Forest Whitaker took the stage at the Oscars in 2007 to accept his award for Best Actor for his performance in "The Last King of Scotland." Whitaker proceeded to read from his notecards: "When I first started acting, it was because of my desire to connect to everyone to that thing inside each of us, that light that I believe exists in all of us because acting for me is believing in that connection."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Vince Bucci | Winner of Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for "The Last King Of Scotland" Forest Whitaker poses in the press room

Image Credits: Getty Images / Vince Bucci | Winner of Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for "The Last King Of Scotland" Forest Whitaker poses in the press room


12. Jennifer Hudson (2006)

"American Idol" might have introduced her to showbiz, but the movies catapulted her to stardom. In 2006, at only 25, Jennifer Hudson took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Effie White in "Dreamgirls." In her speech, Hudson thanked her grandmother, saying she had been her inspiration.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Vince Bucci | Jennifer Hudson poses in the press room with her Oscar

Image Credits: Getty Images / Vince Bucci | Jennifer Hudson poses in the press room with her Oscar


13. Mo'Nique (2009)

Mo'Nique won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as an abusive mother in the 2009 drama "Precious". In her acceptance speech, the actress paid tribute to Hattie McDaniel thanking her "for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to." She also thanked her husband for teaching her to "forego doing what's popular to do what's right."

Image Credits: Getty Images | Mo'Nique posing with her Oscar

Image Credits: Getty Images | Mo'Nique posing with her Oscar


14. Lupita Nyong'o (2013)

"12 Years a Slave" won 3 Oscars in 2013, one of them was due to actress Lupita Nyong's performance as Patsey. Lupita beat Jennifer Lawrence ("American Hustle"), Julia Roberts, June Squibb and Sally Hawkins for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. While accepting, she thanked her character and Solomon Northup, the author of "12 Years a Slave."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Kevin Winter | Actress Lupita Nyong'o accepts the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role award for '12 Years a Slave'

Image Credits: Getty Images / Kevin Winter | Actress Lupita Nyong'o accepts the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role award for '12 Years a Slave'


15. Viola Davis (2017)

In 2017 Viola Davis won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in "Fences." She won the award after three nominations and by beating out fellow nominees Naomie Harris, Nicole Kidman, Michelle Williams, and Octavia Spencer. "I became an artist, and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life," Viola said in her speech.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage | Actress Viola Davis, winner of the award for Actress in a Supporting Role for 'Fences,' poses in the press room

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage | Actress Viola Davis, winner of the award for Actress in a Supporting Role for 'Fences,' poses in the press room


16. Mahershala Ali (2016 & 2018)

Mahershala Ali became the second black actor to win two Oscars, after Denzel Washington. In 2017 he took home the award for Best Supporting Actor in "Moonlight", and in 2019, only two years later, he took the stage to accept the Oscar for his supporting role in "The Green Book."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic | Mahershala Ali poses with the Best Supporting Actor award for Green Book" in the press room

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic | Mahershala Ali poses with the Best Supporting Actor award for Green Book" in the press room


17. Regina King (2018)

Regina King won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "If Beale Street Could Talk" in 2018. After standing up to get her award, she ended up stepping on her dress, which led Captain America to help her get on stage. In her acceptance speech, King thanked the author James Baldwin and the movie director Barry Jenkins.

Image Credits: Getty Images | Regina King posing with her Oscar

Image Credits: Getty Images | Regina King posing with her Oscar


18. Kobe Bryant (2018)

The late Kobe Bryant also made Oscar history by becoming the first professional athlete to win an Academy Award. Bryant was also the first black person to take home the Oscar for Best Animated Short for his film "Dear Basketball" in 2018, which he wrote and narrated.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Steve Granitz/WireImage | Filmmaker Kobe Bryant, winner of the Animated Short award for "Dear Basketball"

Image Credits: Getty Images / Steve Granitz/WireImage | Filmmaker Kobe Bryant, winner of the Animated Short award for "Dear Basketball"


19. Isaac Hayes (1972)

Talking about making history, Isaac Hayes also saw his name in Oscar history by becoming the first black winner for Best Original Song, an award he took home in 1972 for his song "Shaft." In fact, he was the first black winner of an Oscar that wasn't related to acting.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Rolls Press/Popperfoto  | American musician and actor Isaac Hayes pictured holding his Oscar statuette Academy Award with actor Joel Grey

Image Credits: Getty Images / Rolls Press/Popperfoto | American musician and actor Isaac Hayes pictured holding his Oscar statuette Academy Award with actor Joel Grey


20. Irene Cara (1983)

Nine years after Isaac Hayes' Oscar win, Irene Cara became the first black woman to win an Oscar in a category not related to acting. The singer also took home the award for Best Original Song for "What a Feeling" from the movie "Flashdance." The award was shared with co-lyricist Keith Forsey and composer Giorgio Moroder.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | Irene Cara with actress Jennifer Beals, songwriter Keith Forsey, and actor Mathew Broderick.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | Irene Cara with actress Jennifer Beals, songwriter Keith Forsey, and actor Mathew Broderick.


21. Stevie Wonder (1985)

In 1985, legendary Stevie Wonder took the stage to accept his Best Original Song Oscar for "I Just Called To Say I Love You" from the movie "Lady in Red." In his speech, he accepted the award "in the name of Nelson Mandela" and thanked several people, among whom, Dionne Warwick, Gene Wilder, and his family.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann  | Stevie Wonder holding his Oscar

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | Stevie Wonder holding his Oscar


22. Prince (1985)

Here's another record-breaking artist making Oscar history by becoming the first black winner of the Best Original Song Score for the cult classic "Purple Rain" in 1985. The category that has since been eliminated from the Academy Awards. Prince beat Jeff Moss ("The Muppets Take Manhattan",) and Kris Kristofferson ("Songwriter") for the award.

Image Credits: Getty Images /  Bettmann  | Prince and members of his group accept their Oscar for Best Original Song Score for "Purple Rain."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bettmann | Prince and members of his group accept their Oscar for Best Original Song Score for "Purple Rain."


23. Lionel Richie (1986)

The year after Stevie Wonder's win, it was time for Lionel Richie to take home the Oscar for Best Original Song for "Say You, Say Me" from the movie "White Nights." Richie recognized the award as a dream come true, "In the truest sense of the word, I will say to you that this represents a dream come true." He went on to thank everyone who supported him over the years.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection | Lionel Richie posing with his Oscar

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection | Lionel Richie posing with his Oscar


24. Herbie Hancock (1987)

In 1987 jazz and R&B musician Herbie Hancock took the stage to accept the Oscar for Best Original Score for the musical drama "Round Midnight." He was the first black winner for this category, beating James Horner ("Aliens"), Ennio Morricone ("The Mission"), Leonard Rosenman ("Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home") and Jerry Goldsmith ("Hoosiers").

Image Credits: Getty Images / The LIFE Picture Collection | Herbie Hancock at the Academy Awards

Image Credits: Getty Images / The LIFE Picture Collection | Herbie Hancock at the Academy Awards


25. Willie D. Burton (1989 & 2007)

Two years later it was Willie D. Burton's turn to make Oscar history by becoming the first black person to win the award for Best Sound for the movie "Bird". Eighteen years and four nominations later, he would step on stage again to accept his second Oscar, this time for his work on "Dreamgirls", which he shared with Michael Minkler and Bob Beemer.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Vince Bucci | Sound editors (L-R) Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer, and Willie Burton pose wit their Best Achievement in Sound award for "Dreamgirls"

Image Credits: Getty Images / Vince Bucci | Sound editors (L-R) Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer, and Willie Burton pose wit their Best Achievement in Sound award for "Dreamgirls"


26. Russell Williams II (1990 & 1991)

Just like William D. Burton, Russell Williams II also took home two Oscars for Best Sound. He got the first one in 1990 as part of the team that worked on the movies "Glory". Just one year later, in 1991, he was taking the stage once again to accept the award for his work in "Dances With Wolves."

Image Credits: YouTube /  ViolentHuesProd | Russel Williams II stepping onstage to accept his Oscar

Image Credits: YouTube / ViolentHuesProd | Russel Williams II stepping onstage to accept his Oscar


27. Three 6 Mafia (2005)

Juicy J, Frayser Boy, and Dj Paul, from Three 6 Mafia, couldn't believe their ears when they heard their names during the announcement for Best Original Song Oscar in 2005. The three rappers won the award for their song "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" from the movie "Hustle & Flow."

Image Credits: Getty Images | Three 6 Mafia posing with their Oscars

Image Credits: Getty Images | Three 6 Mafia posing with their Oscars


28. Geoffrey Fletcher (2010)

In 2010 the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay went to Geoffrey Fletcher, who became the first black person ever to win the category. Fletcher won the award for his work "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire," beating "District 9", "An Education", "In The Loop," and "Up In The Air".

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jason Merritt | Screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher poses in the press room

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jason Merritt | Screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher poses in the press room


29. Roger Ross Williams (2010)

That same year, Roger Ross Williams also became the first black director to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Short for his work in "Music by Prudence," an award he shared with Elinor Burkett. It beat "China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province", "Rabbit a la Berlin", "The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner," and "The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant".

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ethan Miller/WireImage | Director Roger Ross Williams arrives at the 2010 Vanity Fair Oscar Party

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ethan Miller/WireImage | Director Roger Ross Williams arrives at the 2010 Vanity Fair Oscar Party


30. T. J. Martin (2012)

Director T.J. Martin took the stage with Dan Lindsay and Rich Middlemas to accept the award for Best Documentary Feature for his film "Undefeated" about the Memphis' Manassas Tiger football team. He became the first black person to win this category.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Steve Granitz/WireImage | Producer Rich Middlemas, directors T.J. Martin and Dan Lindsay pose in the press room

Image Credits: Getty Images / Steve Granitz/WireImage | Producer Rich Middlemas, directors T.J. Martin and Dan Lindsay pose in the press room


31. John Ridley (2014)

Four years after Geoffrey Fletcher's win, John Ridley became the second black person to win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Ridley won the award for his adaptation of Solomon Northup's memoir "12 Years a Slave." The movie ended up winning 3 Oscars that night.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Kevin Winter | Screenwriter John Ridley accepts the Best Screenplay Oscar

Image Credits: Getty Images / Kevin Winter | Screenwriter John Ridley accepts the Best Screenplay Oscar


32. Steve McQueen (2013)

In 2013, Steve McQueen became the first black producer to win an Oscar for Best Motion Picture for the movie "12 Years a Slave." It was against top contenders "American Hustle", "Dallas Buyers Club", "Captain Phillips", "Her", "Gravity", "Nebraska", "Philomena," and "The Wolf of Wall Street".

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dan MacMedan/WireImage | Director Steve McQueen poses in the press room

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dan MacMedan/WireImage | Director Steve McQueen poses in the press room


33. Common & John Legend (2015)

In 2015 musicians Common and John Legend took the stage to accept the Oscar for Best Original Song for their song "Glory" from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. biopic's "Selma." On their acceptance speech, Common recalled the moment they sang the song on the same bridge Martin Luther Ling had marched 50 years prior.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dan MacMedan/WireImage | Common and John Legend pose in the press room with their awards for Best Original Song

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dan MacMedan/WireImage | Common and John Legend pose in the press room with their awards for Best Original Song


34. Tarell Alvin McCraney & Barry Jenkins (2017)

Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins joined Geoffrey Fletcher and John Ridley on the list of all the black winners of the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar when they stepped on stage in 2017 to accept their award. "This goes out to all of those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender-conforming [people] who don't see themselves.", McCraney said in his speech. "We're trying to show them you and us. This is for you."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic | Screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney and writer/director Barry Jenkins, winners of Best Adapted Screenplay for 'Moonlight'

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic | Screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney and writer/director Barry Jenkins, winners of Best Adapted Screenplay for 'Moonlight'


35. Jordan Peele (2018)

In 2018 Jordan Peele saw his movie "Get Out" nominated in three different categories. He ended up becoming the first black person to take home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The movie was also nominated for Best Movie and Best Director.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic | Writer Jordan Peele poses in the press room

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic | Writer Jordan Peele poses in the press room

It's quite inspiring to see these talented black artists being rewarded for their work and dedication by such renowned awards. Who are your favorite ones from those mentioned on this list? Let us know all about it in the comments section, and don't forget to share the article!

Sources: Standard, Gold Derby,  Essence, Refinery 29, ABC Columbia, Ultimate Prince

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