Viola Davis is the greatest African American actress in history after landing her third Oscar nomination

Gregory Wakeman
[Image by Paramount Pictures]

If the Oscars really are the barometer that we use to rank the finest thespians to ever step in front of a camera then Viola Davis just became the greatest African American actress in the history of cinema.

That’s because on Tuesday morning Viola Davis scored her third Oscar nomination for her performance in ‘Fences’, making her the first African American actress to ever reach this amount. Viola Davis previously missed out in the Best Supporting Actress field in 2009 for ‘Doubt’ to Penelope Cruz (‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’), and in the Best Actress category to Meryl Streep (‘The Iron Lady’) in 2011.

Davis was gracious and humble when reacting to her latest nomination, releasing a statement, via the LA Times, that read, “Thank you to the Academy for recognising this extraordinary, important film and my work in it. Thank you, Denzel, for being at the helm!

With this nomination Viola Davis moved past Whoopi Goldberg, who was nominated for 1986’s ‘The Colour Purple’ in the Best Actress category field, while she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in 1991’s ‘Ghost’.

[Image by Walt Disney Pictures]

Viola Davis is odds on favourite to win her very first Oscar for her towering performance in ‘Fences’, having picked up the Best Supporting Actress award at the Golden Globes earlier this month. She’ll be competing with Naomie Harris (‘Moonlight’), Michelle Williams (‘Manchester By The Sea’), Nicole Kidman (‘Lion’), and Octavia Spencer (‘Hidden Figures’) in this category at the 89th Academy Awards.

This itself is a landmark, too, because this is the first time that three African-American people have been individually nominated in a single Oscars category in its history. After the Oscars So White controversy over the last two years its also proof that much more diverse movies are actually being made, and, at a time when we need to be reminded, that protests and campaigns for change really can pay off.

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