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Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are racking up all of the major acting awards (including the Sag Awards) leading up to the Oscar ceremonies in February.


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In fact, this may be the first year where two black women may sweep the best actress categories. But will “The Help” improve chances for black women to earn better roles. And will writers and directors create more roles for them? History, unfortunately, is not in the black actress’s favor.

The first black actor to win an Oscar was Hattie McDaniel in 1940 for her role as “Mammy” in “Gone With The Wind.” More than fifty years later, Whoopi Goldberg took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in “Ghost.” Ten years later, Haile Berry won Best Actress (Monster’s Ball, 2001). Jennifer Hudson, Best Supporting Actress (Dream Girls, 2006) and Monique, Best Supporting Actress (Precious, 2009).

Well, at least the yearly time span between wins for black actresses seem to narrow.

“I’m going to dedicate this to the downtrodden, the under-served, the underprivileged, overtaxed — whether emotionally, physically or financially,” Spencer said of her SAG Award win, according to theGrio.

But do you think Spencer’s tribute to the “under-served” will help bring light to under-appreciated black actresses?


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