This year marks the first time ever that three black actresses have been nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in the same year.
Viola Davis, the perceived frontrunner, earned a nod on Tuesday for her powerful role in the adaptation of “Fences,” directed by and starring Denzel Washington.
Naomie Harris, from England, earned her nomination for playing a drug addicted mother in Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight.” And like “Fences,” it was also adapted from a stage play.
Octavia Spencer was nominated for her role in “Hidden Figures,” based on the true story of a team of African-American women who provided NASA with key mathematical data to launch its first successful space missions.
This is Harris’ first Oscar nomination, Davis’ third career nod and Spencer’s second nomination after winning in the same category for “The Help” in 2011.
Before this year, two black actresses have been recognized in the category in the same year only twice before: In 1985, both Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey were nominated for their performances in Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple.” Neither won.
In 2008, Davis was nominated for her supporting role in “Doubt” — the same year Taraji P. Henson — who also starred in “Hidden Figures” — earned a nod for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”