Three films centering on the black experience (Fences, Moonlight and Hidden Figures) were nominated for Best Picture (Barry Jenkins, the African American director of Moonlight, was also recognized). Three documentaries featuring diversity as a theme (I Am Not Your Negro, O.J.: Made in America and 13th) were nominated as well. In addition, Moana, set on the Pacific Islands, was nominated for Best Animated Feature, and its Puerto Rican composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (who’s well on his way to an EGOT) was also singled out.
Most notably, seven performers of color received acting nominations—this was the first time in history black actors were nominated in every acting category:
- Denzel Washington and Viola Davis for Fences
- Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris for Moonlight
- Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures
- Ruth Negga for Loving
- Dev Patel for Lion
Davis, Harris and Spencer are all nominated for Best Supporting Actress, which marks the first time actors of color are the majority in an Oscar category.
The long-awaited infusion of diversity was celebrated by both the nominated performers and Twitter as a whole:
April Reign, who created the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag two years ago, also shared her reaction to the news:
How many of these diverse nominees will walk away winners? Find out February 26, when the 89th annual Academy Awards air on ABC.