17 Black Male Oscar Winners - That Sister (2023)

The Academy Awards began in 1929. Since then, and at the time of writing this, there have been 82 black male Oscar winners. Some of these men have won for acting, some for directing, and some for producing.

In this article, we will look at some of the most famous black male Oscar winners and explore what made them so successful. We will also discuss how their accomplishments have helped break down barriers for other black entertainers.


Sidney Poitier, Winning Best Actor in a Leading Role 1964

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Few people can claim to have as many awards, or accomplished so much in their lifetime. Throughout the course of his life, Sidney Poitier became an actor, activist, ambassador, and film director. In 1958, Poitier was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in The Defiant Ones, making him the first-ever Black man to be nominated for the award.

However, it wasn’t until 1964 that Poitier won the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies of the Field. With his award, Poiter also became the first Black man to win the award, the first Bahamian to win the award, and the first Black man to receive two nominations for the same award.

Louis Gosset Jr., Best Actor in a Supporting Role 1982

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Louis Gossett Jr. is an American actor who has been in the film industry for over 50 years and will go down as one of its greatest, if not favorite, actors ever to grace the public with his presence on screen or stage.

He achieved success early by landing roles like Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in An Officer And A Gentleman, which earned him his first Oscar nomination and win. Gosset stars in many other films, including A Raisin in the Sun, Enemy Mine, The White Dawn, and The Punisher. He also performed as The Fiddler in the TV miniseries Roots.

Denzel Washington, Who Won Best Actor in a Supporting Role 1989

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Denzel Washington is one of the most successful actors in Hollywood, having starred in numerous films. His notable works include Glory, Philadelphia and Malcolm X to name a few.

Washington was Oscar nominated and won for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Private Trip in the critically acclaimed film, Glory. He also went on to win the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar in 2001 for his performance in Training Day. While he won those two awards, he received nominations for countless other roles and awards. In fact, Washington has the most Academy Award nominations of any African American actor or actress.

Russell Williams II, Best Sound 1990

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The list of films that have benefited from his sound mixing includes Dances with Wolves, Field of Dreams, Training Day, and Glory, although he has over 50 film credits to his name. Williams’ talents have led to his concurrent success within the Academy Awards. He was nominated and won for Best Sound in both 1989 and 1990.

In 1990, Williams took home the award for Best Sound for Glory. Williams returned to the Oscars the following year only to win again for his work with Dances with Wolves. He is the only African American person who has won multiple Oscars for the same category and to win consecutive awards for the same category.

Jaime Foxx, Best Actor in a Leading Role, 2004

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Jamie Foxx is one of America’s most talented and accomplished actors. He has played a broad scope of characters throughout his career and garnered various awards, including a BAFTA Award for Leading Role in a Movie or TV Series, Golden Globe, and Academy Award.

Jamie won the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar for portraying Ray Charles in the feature film Ray about the renowned artist. In the same year Foxx won the award for Ray, he was also nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the film Collateral. As such, Foxx is the first African American to be nominated twice in the same year.

Forest Whitaker, Winner Of Best Actor in a Leading Role, 2006

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Forest Whitaker is a Hollywood actor who has been in the industry for over 30 years. He made his big time debut in Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982 and has starred in movies such as Platoon and Good Morning Vietnam to name just two of his many award winning performances that have made him popular around Hollywood.

In 2006, it was just a matter of time before Whitaker took home an Oscar for his work. He went on to earn the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in The Last King of Scotland. In the film, he gave an unforgettable portrayal of a Ugandan Dictator. His most recent performance was in the smash hit Marvel film, Black Panther.

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Roger Ross Williams, Best Documentary (Short Subject), 2009

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Roger Ross Williams is an Academy Award-winning director, producer and writer who has made films that tackle complicated issues. His 2018 documentary film, Life, Animated, won various awards, including three Emmys, the Sundance Film Festival Directing Award, and received an Academy Award nomination.

However, he won an Academy Award in 1990 for his documentary, Music by Prudence, which had its debut on HBO. Music by Prudence is the intimate story of one Zimbabwean woman’s journey from hate to love with music. While a few others were nominated, Williams was—and still is—the first African American to win the Oscar for Best Documentary.

Geoffrey Fletcher, Best Adapted Screenplay 2009

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Geoffrey Fletcher is an academy award-winning Hollywood screenwriter and film director. He wrote the script for Precious, adapted from the popular novel Push by Sapphire. The adaptation won him international recognition as well as an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Not to mention, Fletcher was the first African American to win an Oscar for writing.

In addition to Precious, Fletcher wrote the 2018 film Trial by Fire and wrote and directed the film Violet & Daisy in 2011. While neither received as much attention as his theatrical debut, Precious, The New School adapted Violet & Daisy for the stage in 2019.

T.J. Martin, Best Documentary Feature 2012

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TJ Martin is an Oscar and Emmy award-winning American filmmaker. He’s most well known for his 2011 film, Undefeated which won the 2012 Best Documentary Feature Academy Awards against stiff competition, such as Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Hell and Back Again, Pina, and If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.

Martin was the first African American to win the Best Documentary Feature Oscar award. He also co-edited and co-directed the 2017 documentary film LA 92, which took home a Primetime Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking.

John Ridley, Best Adapted Screenplay 2014

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John Ridley is a highly talented and successful American screenwriter, television director, novelist and showrunner known for his adaptation of 12 Years a Slave.

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His screenplay for the renowned film garnered him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, making him only the second ever African American person to win the award and the first to win the award for a film that also took home the award for Best Picture. His other works include, Red Tails and Undercover Brother.

He’s additionally known for creating and producing American Crime, a limited anthology series featured on ABC. While the network canceled the series after three seasons, it received many Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

Steve McQueen, Best Picture 2014

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Steve McQueen is largely seen as one of the best directors in Hollywood and British-born to boot. His most famous movie, 12 Years a Slave, tells the story of a free African American man who was unfortunitly kidnapped and sold into slavery. John Ridley adapted the film from Solomon Northrup’s 1853 memoirs.

While Ridley won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film, McQueen took home the win for Best Picture. Overall, the film received nine Academy Award nominations.

McQueen was the first African American director and producer to win the award, followed only by Barry Jenkins in 2016 for Moonlight. McQueen was also nominated for Best Director for the film, but did not win.

Ezra Edelman, Best Documentary Feature 2016

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Ezra Edelman is a New York-based director and producer who has directed many HBO documentary series, including Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals and The Curious Case of Curt Flood.

However, Edelman is most famously known for his 2016 Oscar win for his documentary O.J.: Made in America. Edelman won the Oscar as the director and producer for Best Documentary Feature. He is only the second Black male oscar winner for this category.

Barry Jenkins, Best Picture 2016

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Barry Jenkins is a film director, screenwriter and producer who made his filmmaking debut with the short film My Josephine. Shortly after its release, Jenkins began receiving recognition, including the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. However, Jenkins then took an eight-year hiatus.

It wasn’t until after his hiatus that Jenkins directed and co-wrote the smash hit film, Moonlight. As a result of his masterwork, Jenkins received an Oscar nomination for Best Director, an Oscar win for Best Picture, and a joint win with Tarell Alvin McCraney for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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Jordan Peele, Best Original Screenplay 2017

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Jordan Peele is a hilarious and talented actor, comedian and filmmaker who has been making waves with his films in the horror genre.

He starred as a cast member on Fox’s Mad TV before co-creating Key & Peele, a sketch comedy show that would eventually become one of Comedy Central’s most successful series.

Following various film and TV appearances, Peele launched into his directing career with his debut film, Get Out. The film was an immediate hit, scoring Peele many accolades, including the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. In fact, Peele was the first African-American to win the award.

Mahershala Ali, Who Won Best Actor in a Supporting Role 2018

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With his extraordinary range—from film to television to theater work—he can be seen everywhere you look lately. His diverse experience only adds more fuel for fans across all demographics.

He has starred in various films and TV shows, such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, House of Cards, The Place Beyond the Pines, and, of course, the critically acclaimed Green Book.

After Green Book’s run, Ali received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The award came only two years after Ali’s Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Moonlight.

Peter Ramsey, Best Animated Feature Film 2019

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Peter Ramsey, a talented storyboard and story artist, and producer and director, has worked as an artist and illustrator for many films, including Fight Club, Independence Day, and Predator 2. Later in his career, he went on to direct the animated feature film Rise of the Guardians.

Then, he helped co-direct the popular animated movie, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse for which he was the first African American man to be nominated for and win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Daniel Kaluuya, Best Actor in a Supporting Role 2020

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Daniel Kaluuya may be an English actor, but he’s probably best known for his work on American soil in feature films including Black Panther and Get Out. Kaluuya was actually recognized and nominated for his stellar performance in Get Out with an Oscar nomination in 2017.

However, it wasn’t until his leading role in Judah and the Black Messiah in 2020 that he won the Oscar for Best Actor.

Best Black Male Oscar Winners, Final Thoughts

The black male entertainers who have won Oscars are not just successful themselves—they’ve also helped break down barriers for other black professionals. This list of African American Oscar winners can be seen as inspiration for other aspiring actors and young black men nationwide.


How many Black male Oscar winners are there? ›

Poitier's passing resurfaces the disheartening absence of people of color in recent Oscar races for best actor and actress. While Hollywood continues to make thoughtful (or forceful) shifts toward inclusion, Oscar history still shows only four Black lead actor winners.

Who was the second Black person to win an Oscar? ›

By the time he earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for The Defiant Ones (1958), his work in such films as The Blackboard Jungle (1955) had made him America's first prominent Black film star. With his historic Oscar win for Lilies of the Field, Poitier became only the second African American to win an Academy Award.

Which Oscar winner also has an Oscar winning sibling? ›

Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland

Joan won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Suspicion (1941), while Olivia won two Best Actress awards, for To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949). They are the only siblings to both win lead acting awards.

Who was the first black man to win a Best Actor Oscar? ›

Sidney Poitier became the first Black man to win a Best Actor Oscar, for his role in 1963's Lilies of the Field. Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win a Best Actor Oscar, has died. He was 94.

Who was the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Actress? ›

Hattie McDaniel (June 10, 1893 – October 26, 1952) was an American actress, singer-songwriter, and comedian. For her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939), she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the first African American to win an Oscar.
Hattie McDaniel
Years active1920–1952
7 more rows

Who are the top 10 black actors? ›

12 Most Popular And Best Black Actors Of All Time
  • Denzel Washington. ...
  • Sidney Poitier. ...
  • Will Smith. ...
  • Jamie Foxx. ...
  • Forest Whitaker. ...
  • Morgan Freeman. ...
  • Samuel L. ...
  • Chadwick Boseman.
Jan 1, 2023

Have siblings ever won Oscars? ›

The third and most recent brother-sister victors were Warren Beatty (Best Director, “Reds,” 1982) and Shirley MacLaine (Best Actress, “Terms of Endearment,” 1984). Five sibling pairs – all brothers – have won Oscars together, beginning with twin “Casablanca” screenwriters Julius J.

What two actors refused Oscars? ›

Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather, who refused an Oscar on Marlon Brando's behalf. Sacheen Littlefeather, who refused an Academy Award on Marlon Brando's behalf, will receive a formal apology from the Academy at an event next month. Sacheen Littlefeather had only 60 seconds to speak at the 1973 Academy Awards ...

Who was the only actor to win 2 Oscars for the same part? ›

Harold Russell played Homer Parish. For this role he received 2 Oscars, a Best Supporting and one for being an inspiration to all returning veterans. He is the only actor to receive 2 Oscars for the same role.

What black male actor has the most Oscars? ›

Denzel Washington is the only African-American to take home multiple acting Oscars, winning in 1990 for his supporting role as Pvt.

Who is the most nominated African-American actor in Oscar history? ›

frame. Denzel Washington's GOAT status remains unrivaled. Having earned his latest Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in The Tragedy of Macbeth, Washington extends his record as the most-nominated Black actor in Academy Awards history.

Who was the first black man to win an Emmy? ›

Harry Belafonte became the first Black person to win an Emmy at the 1960 awards ceremony, for his performance in “The Revlon Revue: Tonight With Belafonte.” The hourlong CBS variety special showcased historical and contemporary musical styles of Black America, including gospel, blues and jazz.

Who is the only black woman to have won an Oscar for Best Actress? ›

Halle Berry became the first woman of color to win the Academy Award for best actress in 2002 and remains the only Black woman to have won the award. Halle Berry became the first woman of color to win the Academy Award for best actress in 2002, but 20 years later, she remains the only Black woman to have won the award.

Who is the most popular black guy? ›

Martin Luther King, Jr. No single African American in history is perhaps as famous as Martin Luther King, Jr. A federal holiday on the third Monday each January celebrates his legacy.

Who are the five black actors to win an Oscar? ›

The 22 Black Actors who have won Academy Awards (Oscars)
  • 1939 Hattie McDaniel for Gone With the Wind. ...
  • 1963 Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field. ...
  • 1982 Louis Gossett, Jr. ...
  • 1989 Denzel Washington for Glory. ...
  • 1990 Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost. ...
  • 1996 Cuba Gooding, Jr. ...
  • 2001 Denzel Washington for Training Day.

Who are some famous black male actors? ›

Twenty Iconic Black Actors You Should Know
  • Billy Dee Williams. Icon Status — 9. ...
  • Chadwick Boseman. Icon Status — 9. ...
  • Danny Glover. Icon Status — 8. ...
  • Donald Glover. Icon Status — 8. ...
  • Ernie Hudson. Icon Status — 5. ...
  • Gregory Hines. Icon Status — 8. ...
  • Harry Belafonte. Icon Status — 10. ...
  • Idris Elba. Icon Status — 8.
Dec 22, 2020

Which family has won the most Oscar? ›

The Shearers have the most wins, with 16. The Newmans have been nominated the most often, all 95 being for Film Scoring, Arrangement, or Original Song. The Coppolas have the most nominated (9) and winning (7) members.

Who was the youngest child to win an Oscar? ›

Tatum O'Neal won the youngest Oscar on this list with her performance in Paper Moon aged just 10 years old. During filming she turned nine years old, an incredible feat for such a young actress. Unfortunately this success was not continued in the rest of her career.

Has a mother and daughter ever been nominated for an Oscar in the same film? ›

At the 64th Oscars, Diane Ladd and Laura Dern became the first mother-daughter duo to receive Acting nominations for their work on the same film, “Rambling Rose.” That year, they presented the award for Visual Effects together. Joseph Gallagher and 629 others like this.

Who turned down an Oscar first? ›

Dudley Nichols - 1935 Oscar for Best Screenplay

The first person to reject an Oscar was screenwriter Dudley Nichols, who won for Best Screenplay for the 1935 film, 'The Informer'.

Has any actor had their Oscar taken away? ›

As of now, no Oscar winner has ever had their award rescinded by the Academy, although producer and serial sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein was expelled from the governing body in 2017.

Who is the only actor to win 3 Best Actor Oscars? ›

Day-Lewis remains the only actor in history to have earned three Best Actor Academy Awards. There has been a numberof actos who havepicked up two awards in the past. Jack Nicholson has earned 12 nominations in total and has three wins, though not all for Best Actor.

Who was the second male actor to refuse a Best Actor Oscar? ›

Wounded Knee had also been the site of a massacre of Native Americans by U.S. government forces in 1890. Brando was the second performer to turn down a Best Actor Oscar; the first was George C.

Who won 3 Oscars for the same film? ›

List of winners
NameNumberAcademy Awards
James L. Brooks3Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay
James Cameron3Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing
Frank Capra2Best Picture, Best Director
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Who is the only person to present himself with an Oscar? ›

winner was like an old friend. Irving Berlin actually presented himself with the original-song Oscar at the 15th Oscars ceremony on March 4, 1943, at the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel.

What black person has won an Oscar? ›

Sidney Poitier

Poitier plays Homer Smith, a gentle handyman who assists a group of German nuns with building a chapel. Poitier was the first black actor to win an Oscar in this category, and only the second to win in any competitive Oscar race.

Which actor has won 2 Oscars? ›

Jack Nicholson has earned 12 nominations in total and has three wins, though not all for Best Actor. He achieved two Oscars for 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' (1975) and 'As Good as It Gets' (1997), as well as a Best Supporting Actor gong in 1983 for 'Terms of Endearment' (1983).

Has any African American won an Oscar? ›

Hattie McDaniel was first Black Oscar winner for 'Gone With the Wind' - The Washington Post.

What black celebrities won Oscars? ›

  • Hattie McDaniel. Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American actor to win an Oscar, for her supporting performance in "Gone With the Wind" (1939).
  • Sidney Poitier. ...
  • Halle Berry. ...
  • Louis Gossett Jr. ...
  • Denzel Washington. ...
  • Jamie Foxx. ...
  • Forest Whitaker. ...
  • Cuba Gooding Jr.
Feb 27, 2023


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