03/05/2014 12:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Celebration: Black Women on Film

In his book, Brown Sugar: Over One Hundred Years of America's Black Female Superstars, Black film historian Donald Bogle rhapsodized, "With a wink or a nod, a shake of their shoulders or hips, America's "Dark Divas," "Sepia Sirens," "Black Beauties" have acted out fantastic stories full of whispers and secrets. They have played with the myths, created legends, turned the social order topsy-turvy. One thing is certain: in 20th- and 21st-century America, an impressive lineup of African American women have dazzled and delighted the world with their energy and style".

Donald will have to add a new chapter as the 7th woman of color accepted an Academy Award this week. In a blue organza Prada gown and tiara Lupita Nyong'o flawlessly accepted the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in 12 Years a Slave as Patsy. Since the Academy Awards was founded 85 years ago only one woman of color has won for Best Actress. She follows an impressive line of Oscar winning sisters starting with Hattie McDaniel for Gone with the Wind, Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost, Halle Berry for Monsters Ball, Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls, Monique for Precious and Octavia Spencer for The Help.

Fast forward. According to Box office Mojo, Halle Berry's feature film, The Call banked 51M. Octavia Spencer played Wanda in the 2014 Independent Sprit Award winning Best Film, Fruitvale Station. Whoopi Goldberg produced the HBO documentary about Moms Mabley. Jennifer Hudson showcased her acting and singing talents in Black Nativity. Monique is starring in the soon to be released independent film, Blackbird in another challenging role; religious mother of a gay son.


ESSENCE magazine celebrated all the woman of color in Hollywood with a luncheon. In it's 7th season the Black Woman in Hollywood event at The Beverly Hills Hotel honored newcomer Lupita Nyong'o, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and director Ava DuVernay. How lovely! The ladies seem to be channeling author and playwright Zora Neale Huston who quipped,"Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company?"