Oscars Make History with 7 Black Winners, 15 Female Honorees

Only six women won trophies at last year's Oscars, making this year's record all the more notable

Even those who didn’t win big at the Oscars this year have reason to celebrate — Sunday’s ceremony set new records for the number of both black and female winners.

Seven black men and women scooped up trophies at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, two more than the previous record, which came in 2017.

Meanwhile, 15 women grabbed gold during the show, beating the previous record of 12, from 2014 and 2016.

Of the black winners, almost all were first-time Oscar recipients, including Regina King (Best Supporting Actress, If Beale Street Could Talk), Ruth E. Carter (Best Costume Design, Black Panther), Hannah Beachler (Best Achievement in Production Design, Black Panther), Peter Ramsey (Best Animated Feature Film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Kevin Willmott (Best Adapted Screenplay, BlacKkKlansman) and Spike Lee (Best Adapted Screenplay, BlacKkKlansman).

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The only exception was Mahershala Ali (Best Supporting Actor, Green Book), who won the same prize for Moonlight in 2017.

Carter’s win was historic in its own right, as she is the first black woman to ever win in her category, as was Beachler’s: She, too, is the first black winner in her category, and the first black person to ever be nominated in the category.

“I give this strength to all of those who come next,” Beachler said in her acceptance speech. “To keep going and never give up, and when you think it’s impossible, just remember to say this piece of advice I got from a very wise woman: ‘I did my best, and my best is good enough.’”

Lee’s win, meanwhile, was one of the night’s highlights, as he excitedly ran onstage and wrapped presenter Samuel L. Jackson in a bear hug.

It’s the director’s first competitive Oscar, as he won an honorary trophy in 2016. This year’s Oscars marked his first time being nominated since 1998, when he was up for Best Documentary for 4 Little Girls.

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Lee got political in his acceptance speech, urging viewers to “do the right thing” and vote President Donald Trump out of office come 2020.

“Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who have built this country into what it is today along with the genocide of its native people,” he said. “We all connect with our ancestors. We will have love and wisdom regained; we will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment.”

He continued, “The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.”

Trump responded via a tweet early Monday morning, writing, “Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!”

As for the women, the 15 wins mark a huge leap from last year’s ceremony, in which only six women took home prizes.

91st Annual Academy Awards - Governors Ball
Regina King and Spike Lee. Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Notable recipients included Olivia Colman (Best Actress, The Favourite), Regina King, Lady Gaga (Best Original Song, “Shallow”), as well as Carter and Beachler.

Rounding out the list of female winners was Melissa Berton and Rayka Zehtabchi (Best Documentary Short, Period. End of Sentence.), Becky Neiman-Cobb and Domee Shi (Best Animated Short Film, Bao), Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Shannon Dill (Best Documentary Feature, Free Solo), Nina Hartstone (Best Sound Editing, Bohemian Rhapsody), Jaime Ray Newman (Best Live Action Short Film, Skin) and Kate Biscoe and Patricia DeHaney (Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Vice).

“To all the nerdy girls out there hiding behind your sketchbooks, don’t be afraid to tell your stories to the world,” Shi said during her acceptance speech.

The Best Documentary Short winners also expressed joy in the fact that their film about menstrual equality won them a trophy.

“I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” Zehtabchi said.

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