We’ve come a long way since the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of 2015 and 2016 when there were no Black nominees in any of the major acting categories.

Last year, Viola Davis and Mahershala Ali took home Oscars for Best Supporting Actress and Actor, and we’re hoping the Academy shows our Black artists some love this year at the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 4

Issa Rae said it best at last year’s Emmys:



Here’s a look at this year’s Black nominees.

Jordan Peele

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Jordan Peele

Nominated for: Best Director and Original Screenplay, Get Out

Why you should know him: When Get Out hit theaters in February 2017, no one expected it to be such a hit at the box office and with critics. The movie has earned $176 million at the domestic box office and has earned four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture of the year.

Here’s what he has done: Peele, alongside comic partner Keegan-Michael Key, created the award-winning sketch comedy show Key & Peele for Comedy Central. He also starred on Fox’s MADTv.

Fun fact: Peele won a Peabody Award for Key & Peele.

Daniel Kaluuya

Daniel Kaluuya

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Nominated for: Best Actor, Get Out

Why you should know him: “Rose, give me those keys!” It was that line when audiences of the hit film Get Out knew, without a doubt, that Kaluuya’s character, Chris Washington, was in danger. Kaluuya delivered a performance that was subtle yet powerful. From realizing that his girlfriend’s family was racist to his fight to survive. There’s no doubt as to why Kaluuya was nominated for Best Actor.

Here’s what he has done: Besides his Oscar-nominated performance in Get Out, Kaluuya can be seen in Marvel’s record-breaking Black Panther and in an episode of the Netflix hit series Black Mirror.

Fun fact: Kaluuya won the 2018 Rising Star award for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Octavia Spencer

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Octavia Spencer

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actress, Shape of Water

Why you should know her: Spencer’s latest nomination for Guillermo del Toro’s Shape of Water makes her the first Black actress to get two Oscar nominations AFTER she’s already won an Academy Award. Last year, Spencer was nominated for supporting actress for her stellar work in Hidden Figures, and in 2011, she won an Oscar for her scene-stealing performance as Minny Jackson in The Help.

Here’s what she has done: Besides her work in Oscar-nominated films, Spencer has appeared on Comedy Central’s Drunk History, CBS’ Mom and voiced a character in Disney’s animated hit Zootopia.

Fun fact: Spencer is an author, having written Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandi and Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Sweetest Heist in History.

Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige

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Nominated for: Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song, Mudbound

Why you should know her: When you think of Blige, you normally don’t think of actress. The Queen of R&B has been spilling her soul out in song for over 20 years and now she’s doing so on movie screens. Having co-written “Mighty River,” alongside Raphael Saadiq and Tara Stinson, the songstress will take the stage at the 90th Academy Awards and perform her nominated song.

Here’s what she has done: Blige burst onto the scene with her debut album What’s the 411? in 1992 and she hasn’t slowed down. With hit records such as “My Life,” “No More Drama” and “The Breakthrough,” Blige has been a force in the music industry. On screen she’s appeared on Empire, Black-ish, The Wiz Live! and How to Get Away with Murder, but it’s her performance in Mudbound that’s earned her not one, but two Oscar nominations.

Fun fact: Blige is a nine-time Grammy Award winner.

Denzel Washington

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Denzel Washington

Nominated for: Best Actor, Roman J. Israel, Esq

Why you should know him: Washington is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors. His nomination for Roman J. Israel, Esq. brings his total Oscar nominations to eight, previously winning two for his roles in Glory (Best Supporting Actor) and Training Day (Best Actor.)

Here’s what he has done: The real question is, what hasn’t Washington been in? He has played a father fighting for his sick kid in John Q to civil rights leader in the critically acclaimed Malcolm X (which, let’s be real, he should have won an Oscar for). He’s played an alcoholic pilot and a dirty cop. He can do it all.

Fun fact: Alongside his two Oscars, Washington has a Tony Award, A Screen Actors Guild Award and three Golden Globes.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

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Nominated for: Animated Short, Dear Basketball

Why you should know him: Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years and has won five NBA championships with the team. He’s won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award three times.

Here’s what he has done: Bryant has dabbled in music, having released a single called “K.O.B.E ” in 2000.

Fun fact: Bryant entered the NBA directly from high school.

Raphael Saadiq

Raphael Saadiq

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Nominated for: Best Original Song, Mudbound

Why you should know him: The singer, songwriter and producer has worked with the best in the music business. From Whitney Houston to Mary J. Blige, with which he’s nominated for an Academy Award for Mudbound.

Here’s what he has done: Saadiq was a member of the group Tony! Toni! Toné!, and he was an executive producer on Solange’s Grammy award-winning A Seat at the Table.

Fun fact: Saadiq won a Grammy Award in 2002 for Best R&B song.

 

Dee Rees

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Dee Rees

Nominated for: Best Adapted Screenplay, Mudbound

Why you should know her: The screenwriter and director made history when she became the first African-American woman to ever be nominated for Adapted Screenplay. Alongside her Oscar nomination for writing, Rees directed Mudbound, which received four nominations.

Here’s what she has done: Mudbound is the fourth film that Rees has directed. She previously directed Eventual Salvation, Pariah and Bessie, which starred Queen Latifah.

Fun fact: Anne Hathaway has reportedly signed on for Rees’ upcoming political thriller film, The Last Thing He Wanted.

Taura Stinson

Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

 

Taura Stinson

Nominated for: Best Original Song, Mudbound

Why you should know her: The songwriter has worked with Usher, Ariana Grande and Destiny’s Child, as well as writing songs for television and film. She is nominated alongside Mary J. Blige and Raphael Saadiq for writing “Mighty River.”

Here’s what she has done: Aside from writing for some of the biggest musical acts in the business, Stinson is also a published author. She wrote the book, 100 Things Every Black Should Know: For Ages 10-100.

Fun fact: Stinson told EBONY that she’s bringing her parents with her to the Academy Awards.

Virgil Williams

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Virgil Williams

Nominated for: Best Adapted Screenplay, Mudbound

Why you should know him: Williams wrote Mudbound alongside Dee Rees and it’ has earned him an Oscar nomination.

Here’s what he has done: Williams has written for television series including ER, Criminal Minds and 24.

(Not so) Fun fact: When actor Thomas Gibson was fired from Criminal Minds in 2016 over a physical altercation with a writer/producer on set, it was Williams who Gibson allegedly attacked.

From IMDB: On not working with Gibson in the future: “I hope that he’s getting time with his family. I hope the best for the guy.”

Kevin Wilson Jr.

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Kevin Wilson Jr.

Nominated for: Best Live Action Short Film, My Nephew Emmett

Why you should know him: His Oscar-nominated short film, My Nephew Emmett, tells the story of the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 by two White men.

Here’s what he has done: Wilson has written and directed other shorts, Little Red Riding Hood and The Unattainable Piece.

Fun fact: Wilson is a student in the Graduate Film program at NYU.

 

Yance FordYance Ford

Nominated for: Best Documentary Feature, Strong Island

Why you should know him: Ford is the first openly transgender director to be nominated for an Oscar.

Here’s what he has done: Ford has worked as a producer on other documentary projects, P.O.V.  and The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández.

Fun fact: There’s a video of Ford learning that he was nominated for his first Academy Award.

 

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this post had not included Oscar nominee Yance Ford.



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