Asian actors win big at Oscars as Academy struggles with representation

Asian actors and a Black female costume designer made Oscars history Sunday night, but recent data still shows a significant lack of representation for award nominees of color.

Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan took home best actress and best supporting actor awards for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which garnered seven wins total, including best picture.

Yeoh became the first Asian actress to win the award in her category; Quan became the second Asian actor to win in his.

“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities,” Yeoh said as she accepted the award in a white feathery Dior haute couture gown:

“This is proof that, dream big and dreams do come true.”

Other film professionals of color took home awards as well. Costume designer Ruth E. Carter became the first Black woman to win an Academy Award twice after she won for best costume design in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

Carter first won in 2019 for her work in “Black Panther.”

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Cater said she had dealt with adversity in an industry that “sometimes didn’t look like me.”

“I feel that this win opens the door for other young costume designers that may not think that this industry is for them,” she continued. “Hopefully they’ll see me and they’ll see my story and they’ll think that they can win an Oscar too.”

Weeks prior to the ceremony, a 2023 USC Annenberg study found that only 6 percent of Oscar nominees since 1929 were from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.

The Academy Awards of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has frequently been criticized for its lack of representation, especially after the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite started trending eight years ago when zero actors of color were nominated for awards in 2015.

Viewers were quick to comment on the fact that Angela Bassett, who starred in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” was snubbed this year for the best supporting actress award after being nominated for playing Queen Ramonda.

She made history in January after becoming the first actor in a Marvel film to snag a Golden Globe.

In the past, Hollywood watchers have turned to Golden Globe award winners to predict who’s likely to win Academy Awards in similar categories.

Yet, Jamie Lee Curtis’s name was called when the presenters opened the best supporting actress envelope Sunday night. Bassett did not smile or stand for Curtis when she received a standing ovation for her win. Bassett’s reaction soon went viral.

“You can tell how much that Oscar would’ve meant to her,” wrote a BuzzFeed editorial director on Twitter. “She is, was, and always will be incredible. I better see her on that stage SOON.”

Bassett had previously been nominated in the best actress category for playing Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It” in 1994. However, Holly Hunter won the award that year for playing Ada McGrath in “The Piano.”

Halle Berry remains the only Black woman to win the best actress award in the Academy Awards’ 95-year history. She was nominated for her role in 2002′s “Monster’s Ball.” The first person of color to win an Oscar was Hattie McDaniel in 1940 for playing Mammy in “Gone with the Wind.”

The nearly 10,000 members of The Academy Awards of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are tasked with voting for Oscar nominees.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, one of the voters, an actor, said that they believed the Academy is “being held hostage — somewhat unfairly — by the wokeness.”

He added: “When they get in trouble for not giving Viola Davis an award, it’s like, no, sweetheart, you didn’t deserve it. We voted, and we voted for the five we thought were best,” he’s quoted by the magazine as saying.

Travon Free, a Black film director who has written for “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” and “The Daily Show,” snapped back at that sentiment on Twitter.

“Anyone who’s paid attention to the ways in which white people have oppressed and suppressed people of color in this country is familiar with white people masking racism in merit,” he said.

“It’s a lot easier to tell someone they didn’t deserve something when they’re a minority in a so-called meritocracy than to say ‘we don’t want to give you this’ or ‘we don’t want you in our club.’”

Later in the ceremony, Michael B. Jordan, Bassett’s “Black Panther” co-star, and Jonathan Majors took to the stage to present the award for best cinematography.

After the pair approached their mark, they spoke to Bassett, who was sitting in front of them.

“Hey Auntie,” Jordan said.

“We love you,” Majors added.

The Reckon Report.
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