Angela Bassett Receives Honorary Oscar, Pays Tribute to All the Black Women Who Have Won Academy Awards



  • Angela Bassett, after an illustrious career, finally received her long overdue Oscar at the 14th annual Governors Awards.
  • Bassett honored other Black women who have won Academy Awards, recognizing them as beacons of possibility for aspiring actors.
  • Bassett expressed her hope for a more inclusive film industry where history is no longer made with firsts and suspense over nominations or wins.

After two Academy Award nominations and an illustrious career that spans back decades, Black Panther actress Angela Bassett finally got her Oscar statuette. Bassett, along with Mel Brooks, film editor Carol Littleton, and founding director of the Sundance Institute Michelle Satter, were honored during Tuesday’s 14th annual Governors Awards (via The Hollywood Reporter). Bassett’s award was presented by Regina King; the two have collaborated on multiple projects, including How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Boyz n the Hood. When presenting, King spoke fondly of Bassett, calling her a “national treasure” and “artistic excellence embodied in human form.”

During Bassett’s acceptance speech, she said that she considered acting her “calling,” and that she was grateful for the recognition:

“Thank you, thank you to the Academy and the Board of Governors for this award. I have considered acting my calling and not just my career. I do this work because I find it meaningful and I hope in some way that it makes a difference and has an impact. To be recognized in this way for what I love doing is truly wonderful and I am beyond grateful.”

Bassett also took time to honor other Black women who have won Academy Awards, including King, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Lupita Nyong’o, Whoopi Goldberg, Hattie McDaniel (who, in 1939, became the first Black person to win an Oscar), and Halle Berry (who remains the only Black woman to win in the lead actress character).

“I call their names to acknowledge every one of them this evening for being beacons of possibility and hope for little Black and brown girls who aspire to one day pursue the dream of becoming an actor.”

Bassett also made special mention of Cicely Tyson, the first Black woman to receive an honorary Oscar (Bassett is just the second). Tyson, who passed away in 2021, had a remarkable decades-long career marked by roles that empowered African American women.

“I hope that [Tyson] is smiling from the heavens that I’m able to join her in this circle of recognition, knowing that she was so impactful to me as an actress and as a woman,” Bassett said.

During her speech, Bassett also shared her hope for a more inclusive film industry:

“My prayer is that we leave this industry more enriched, forward-thinking and inclusive than we found it, a future where there won’t be a first or an only, or suspense around whether history will be made with a nomination or a win.”

Related: Angela Bassett Held Austin Butler’s Hand When He Lost at Oscars, Says Elvis Star Is ‘No Less a Winner’

Angela Bassett’s Overdue Oscar Win

Angela Bassett singing as Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do With It.
Buena Vista Pictures

Popular opinion indicates that Bassett’s Oscar win is long overdue. Last year, Bassett received the Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress in a drama film for her work as Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. For many, this seemed like a clear indication that Bassett would take home the Oscar in the same category. To the dismay of fans and social media, the actress didn’t receive that accolade, which, instead, Jamie Lee Curtis won for her work on Everything Everywhere All At Once – many argued that Curtis’ role in the film (she appeared on-screen for just over 17 minutes) didn’t warrant a win over Bassett.

But that wasn’t Bassett’s first snub at the Oscars: in 1994, she also earned a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It, but the Oscar award ultimately went to The Piano‘s Holly Hunter.

While Bassett’s first on-screen appearance occurred in 1985 (with Doubletake), her breakout role came in 1991 via John Singleton’s Boyz in the Hood (1991). Other notable credits include Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, Waiting to Exhale, Olympus Has Fallen, Akeelah and the Bee, Chi-raq, Vampire in Brooklyn, The Rosa Parks Story, Betty & Coretta, American Horror Story, and FOX’s 9-1-1.

Up next, Bassett can be seen in Netflix’s fantasy feature Damsel, alongside Millie Bobby Brown, on March 8, 2024.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Black Panther Wakanda Forever

A sequel that will continue to explore the world of Wakanda and all the characters introduced in the 2018 film.

Release Date
November 11, 2022


Share This Article
Leave a comment