Racial bean counting at the Oscars

A reader sent me some interesting data on the actual track record of blacks in the Best Actor category of the Academy Awards. He writes:

The black population in the US is about 13%.

So, apparently according to Spike Lee et al, blacks must be given 13% of awards. 

In the last nine years black actors won once which was 11% of the Best Actor awards.

In the last eleven years black actors won twice which was 18% of the Best Actor awards.

In the last fourteen years black actors won three times which was 21% of the Best Actor awards.

  • 2013 - 20% of the nominees were black
  • 2012 - 20%
  • 2009 - 20%
  • 2006 - 20%
  • 2004 - 20%
  • 2001 - 20%
  • 1999 - 20%

In the last four years there have been 20 nominees for Best Actor. Two were black. Ten percent. 

Of course, as Marion DS Dreyfus notes today that many of the best roles are based on real stories. And, in those stories the principle individual was white. You can’t win a Best Actor award if you aren’t cast in a leading role in a great movie.

Winning roles for Best Actor where casting a black actor would be problematic:

  • 2014: Stephen Hawking (real white person)
  • 2013: Ron Woodroof (real white person)
  • 2012: Abraham Lincoln (real white person)
  • 2011: George Valentin (not a real person, but an actor in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932)
  • 2010: King George VI (a real very white person)
  • 2009: Otis Blake (not a real person, but a country music singer—not a lot of those)
  • 2008: Harvey Milk (a real white, gay person)
  • 2007: Daniel Plainview (not a real person, but a oilman at the end of the nineteen century—not a lot of black oilmen at that time)
  • 2009: Truman Capote (a real white, gay person)

A reader sent me some interesting data on the actual track record of blacks in the Best Actor category of the Academy Awards. He writes:

The black population in the US is about 13%.

So, apparently according to Spike Lee et al, blacks must be given 13% of awards. 

In the last nine years black actors won once which was 11% of the Best Actor awards.

In the last eleven years black actors won twice which was 18% of the Best Actor awards.

In the last fourteen years black actors won three times which was 21% of the Best Actor awards.

  • 2013 - 20% of the nominees were black
  • 2012 - 20%
  • 2009 - 20%
  • 2006 - 20%
  • 2004 - 20%
  • 2001 - 20%
  • 1999 - 20%

In the last four years there have been 20 nominees for Best Actor. Two were black. Ten percent. 

Of course, as Marion DS Dreyfus notes today that many of the best roles are based on real stories. And, in those stories the principle individual was white. You can’t win a Best Actor award if you aren’t cast in a leading role in a great movie.

Winning roles for Best Actor where casting a black actor would be problematic:

  • 2014: Stephen Hawking (real white person)
  • 2013: Ron Woodroof (real white person)
  • 2012: Abraham Lincoln (real white person)
  • 2011: George Valentin (not a real person, but an actor in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932)
  • 2010: King George VI (a real very white person)
  • 2009: Otis Blake (not a real person, but a country music singer—not a lot of those)
  • 2008: Harvey Milk (a real white, gay person)
  • 2007: Daniel Plainview (not a real person, but a oilman at the end of the nineteen century—not a lot of black oilmen at that time)
  • 2009: Truman Capote (a real white, gay person)