Although it may not have seemed so at first, the 2012 awards season is looking to be a transformative one for black females in Hollywood. This Sunday at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, "The Help" actresses Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer won Best Actress in a Film and Best Supporting Actress in a Film, respectively. This places Davis and Spencer as the frontrunners for the same nominations at the Oscars later this February.
In her acceptance speech, Spencer acknowledged individuals in the same situation that her character ("Missy") underwent: "I'm going to dedicate this to the downtrodden, the under-served, the underprivileged, overtaxed — whether emotionally, physically or financially." Black females have been making moves in the movie industry for decades, so while these wins are a long time coming, this barrage of talent is nothing new.
Between the Spencer-Davis tag team, the brilliant debut of Dee Rees' "Pariah" and DuVernay's history making win at Sundance, January is setting quite a precedent in what usually shapes up to be a predictable, white-washed season. Will this award momentum provide enough motives for studios, distributors, and casting directors to diversify the industry? Or are will the struggle prove just as difficult as before?