Last year Kerry Washington and Don Cheadlemade Emmy history as two African American actors breaking through the lead acting categories at the same time with nominations. Not only did they both earn nominations again this year, but a total of 11 Black actors and actresses were nominated across all acting categories — the most since 1977 when Roots racked up nine nominations for its castmembers according to TV Academy stats (Roots wound up winning trophies for Olivia HopeandLouis Gossett Jr). Last year Washington’s nom for Scandal repped the first in nearly two decades for a black actress, the last being Cicely Tyson in 1995′sSweet Justice. This year, Washington will be running into Tyson on the red carpet as she’s also up for an nomination in the lead movie/miniseries actress category for The Trip to Bountiful. Another big year for Black actors was 1986, when The Cosby Show earned eight acting nominations and a guest comedy actor win for Roscoe Lee Browne. Typically the Emmys, similar to the Oscars, has been criticized for a lack of diversity in the past.
“It’s a testament to the storytelling that is going on out there,” Andre Braugher, who plays Captain Ray Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, said this morning about the record. “If you look at what Fox is doing with diverse comedies, there’s The Mindy Project and our show. There’s a new dimension of half-hour comedies that don’t depend on stereotypes or the boxes we put people in. I play a gay police captain on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and I’m not the butt of the joke. That’s revolutionary for TV.”
Added Cheadle about the trend, “It definitely reps a widening of the storytelling and more inclusive ideology of the shared stories and experiences we all have. It’s creeping toward something, but there’s still a lack of recognition for other nationalities. It’s definitely better, but it’s not something you can pin too much on as a trend since next year could be lower.”
Of the 11 this year, there’s Washington in Scandal (lead drama actress), Joe Morton also in Scandal (guest actor drama), Cheadle in House Of Lies (lead actor comedy series), Braugher for Brooklyn Nine-Nine (supporting comedy actor), Chiwetel Ejiofor in Starz’s Dancing On The Edge, Idris Elba for Luther (both in movie/miniseries actor category), Tyson in Trip to Bountiful (lead actress movie/miniseries), Angela Bassett in American Horror Story: Coven (movie/miniseries supporting actress), Reg. E. Cathey in House Of Cards (guest actor drama), and Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox in Orange Is The New Black (both guest actress comedy series).
Back in March, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichiehinted that she was working on something with Lupita Nyong’o but wouldn’t go into detail. The secret is finally out and Adichie announced Thursday that Nyong’o has optioned the film rights to her novel Americanah.
According to The Root, the news was revealed by Adichie and announced via Stylist Magazine’s Twitter account saying, “Lupita Nyong’o has optioned rights for the film version of Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie confirms #stylistbookclub.”
The novel is a love story that follows a young couple from Nigeria who face hard choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home. Americanah was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review, also winning the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.
Adichie is not stranger to the big screen, her book Half of a Yellow Sun is playing in theaters now and stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton.
This will be Nyong’o’s first major film announcement since her Academy Award winning performance in 12 Years a Slave.
According to Variety.com, 12 Years a Slave dominated the Independent Spirit Awards today, winning Best Feature, Best Director for Steve McQueen, Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o and Best Adapted Screenplay for John Ridley. 12 Years also took the cinematography award for Sean Bobbitt.McQueen dedicated his Best Director award to Solomon Northup, whose life and book was the basis for the searing historical drama, and also gave thanks to Chiwetel Ejiofor — the “soul” of the film.
In her acceptance speech, a composed Nyong’o said breathlessly that she had not been aware initially of the distinction of independent films, but said she then realized, “Independent film is where stuff actually happens.” Nyong’o noted that it was her birthday and concluded her speech by thanking her mother for supporting her choice to become an actress.
Fruitvale Stationfinally gained some much-deserved recognition this awards season, winning Best First Feature for writer/director Ryan Coogler and its cast. Coogler gave a moving acceptance speech honoring Oscar Grant that received a standing ovation.
Matthew McConaughey won the best actor trophy as an activist for Dallas Buyers Club and Cate Blanchett took the best actress award for her portrayal of the neurotic title character in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. A full list of winners appears below.
In order to be nominated, each film has to have less than a $20 million production budget. To vote, one need only buy a $95 per year membership in Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that also produces the Los Angeles Film Festival.
According to Variety.com, the 2014 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Film went to 12 Years a Slave. In his speech, helmer-producer Steve McQueen said that there were “21 million people living in slavery as we sit here now.” McQueen was joined at the event by fellow producers Anthony Katagas, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner.
The leading actor award went to Chiwetel Ejiofor for his performance in 12 Years a Slave. He paid tribute to McQueen, and said that the award really belonged to the director. “It’s yours. I’m going to keep it, but it is yours,” he said. Although 12 Years A Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o lost out to Jennifer Lawrence for Best Supporting Actress, the award for Supporting Actor was picked up by Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips. He thanked the performers who played the other pirates in the film. “We came from nothing and I got this (the BAFTA),” he said.
Vanity Fair released a sneak peek of its 20th annual Hollywood Issue on Monday, and it may be the most groundbreaking one yet. The magazine has apparently taken steps toward emphasizing the diversity of Hollywood. For the first time since it began putting out the annual special in 1995, six of the 12 celebrated thespians gracing the 2014 cover are not white. The magazine has come under fire in the past for an apparent lack of diversity. Just a few years ago, as Buzzfeed has pointed out, a 2010 the cover featured nine actresses — all white, thin and under 40 years old.
Over the years the annual selection has included one or two minority actors — such as Angela Bassett in 1995, and Lucy Liu and Salma Hayek in 2004 — but this year’s edition shows how expansive the African-American film scope has grown across several genres.
Among those featured on the three-panel foldout are many of Hollywood’s most heralded actors of the past year, including Oscar nominees Julia Roberts, for August: Osage County, Jared Leto, who is the front-runner in his Best Supporting Actor category for Dallas Buyers Club, and Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o from 12 Years A Slave.
According to Variety.com, British actor John Boyegawill portray Olympic athlete Jesse Owens in the biopic Race, with shooting set to start in May in Berlin and Montreal. Stephen Hopkins (Judgment Night, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) who will direct from a script by Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel, said, “John Boyega is definitely one of the most exciting young actors working today and I am thrilled to have him on board to play the iconic role of Jesse Owens in Race.”
The 21-year-old Boyega stars in Malik Vitthal’s inner-city drama Imperial Dreams, which premiered Jan. 17 at the Sundance Film Festival. He debuted in feature films in 2011′s Attack the Block and appeared in 2012′s Half of a Yellow Sun opposite Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Race will focus on how Owens, the son of an Alabama sharecropper, shattered Adolf Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by winning a record four gold medals in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, the long jump and the 400-meter relay. Owens’ victories are considered among the greatest atlhetic feats of all time. Hitler had insisted Jews and Blacks not be allowed to participate in the games, but relented when threatened with a boycott. He shook hands only with the German victors on the first day of competition and then skipped all further medal presentations.
Shooting locations include the actual Berlin Olympic stadium where Owens won the four gold medals. Producers are aiming for a release in the spring of next year. Race is supported by the Jesse Owens Foundation, the Jesse Owens Trust and the Luminary Group, and has been been in development for the past two years. Race is a different project from the Disney biopic about Owens, which has Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen) attached to direct.
This morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for its 86th annual Awards, and recent Golden Globes Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave was honored nine times, including nods for Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Best Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley), Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Best Director (Steve McQueen) and Best Picture (Brad Pitt is one of the producers).
Other notable nominations include Barkhad Abdi for Best Supporting Actor in Captain Phillips, Pharrell Williams for Original Song (“Happy” from Despicable Me 2) and U2 for Original Song (“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom).
American Hustle and Gravity tied for most nominations with ten nominations each, and will likely provide the stiffest competition for 12 Years during the March 2nd awards ceremony.
The full list of nominations follows below:
“12 Years a Slave”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”
Slavery saga 12 Years a Slave opened at No. 1 in the United Kingdom this weekend, in the Oscar frontrunner’s first major overseas test. 12 Years a Slave took in $4.2 million from 208 screens, an encouraging number for Lionsgate, which is distributing in nearly every foreign territory. It’s currently playing in 16 international markets and has taken in $5 million, with most of its significant openings yet to come. The R-rated “12 Years a Slave” is directed by Steve McQueen stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt. It has grossed nearly $39 million in the U.S., where Fox Searchlight is distributing.
After what was turning into a shut out of awards for black actors and African-American themed projects, Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave won the last and most-coveted Golden Globe of the night – Best Motion Picture – Drama. Director Steve McQueen accepted on behalf of the producers and cast, graciously speaking as the actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson and others gathered on stage during the surprise win. The only other Golden Globe related to a black-themed project went to U2 for its Original Song in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.
Perhaps African Americans will fare better at the Oscars – Academy Award nominations will be announced on January 16th.