5 Most Memorable Oscar Acceptance Speeches in Black Film
3 months ago
These acceptance speeches will go down in Oscar history
As an Oscar nominee, there are 3 important things to worry about: what to wear, getting the win, and of course, your acceptance speech!
WIth only 45 seconds to thank God, the Academy, family, friends, cast, crew, agents and managers, Oscar winners are challenged to keep their speeches both poignant and memorable. In the ceremony's 84-year history, only 12 black actors and actresses have walked away with Oscar gold and their speeches have packed the most emotional impact, speaking to the struggles of actors of color being recognized in such a lily-white industry.
[ALSO READ: 6 Worst Oscar Snubs in Black Film History]
We've gathered 5 of the most memorable acceptance speeches in Oscar history.
McDaniels made history as the first African-American to win an Oscar, playing a maid in the 1939 epic Gone With The Wind. McDaniel's performance was not embraced by segments of the black community - the NAACP took her to task for playing a subservient role. McDaniel's shot back "I'd rather be paid to play a maid, than be one."
Berry made the whole world cry when she won Best Actress in 2002 for Monster's Ball. Visibly shaken, Berry said, "This moment is so much bigger than me. This is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It's for the women who stand beside me - Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica A. Fox - and for every nameless, faceless actress of color who now has a chance because now another door has been opened."
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The year 2002 may have been a watershed moment in the Academy's history - 3 black actors walked away with Oscars - but Denzel Washington was not about to be swept away on that evening's emotional high. Calmly accepting his Best Actor statue for his performance as a crooked cop in Training Day, Washington chuckled and started off his speech with, "Two birds in one night, huh?" His statement was code to Black America as if to say, "You know this is all political. Enjoy the ride."
Poitier was the first black actor to win Best Actor in 1964, playing a handyman in Lilies of the Field. "It's been a long journey to this moment," the Bahamian born actor said. Poitier would be bestowed with an Honorary Oscar again in 2002 for his lifetime achievement in film.
[ALSO READ: Black Director Speaks Out on Oscar Snub]
Cuba Gooding Jr.
If nothing else, Cuba Gooding Jr.'s acceptance speech will go down in Oscar history as the most enthusiastic. Even as the music played, when his time was up, Gooding Jr. took time to thank his Jerry McGuire co-stars Tom Cruise and Regina King, shouting "I love you!"