Last year, Angela Bassett faced an Oscar snub for her role in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” However, the tides turned on Wednesday, January 9th, at the 14th annual Governors Awards in Los Angeles, where the iconic performer received an honorary Oscar for her remarkable contributions to Hollywood. Regina King, her co-star in “227,” “Boyz N the Hood,” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” had the honor of introducing her on this momentous occasion.
In a heartfelt acceptance speech, Bassett expressed her deep connection to acting, considering it not just a career but a calling. Grateful for the recognition, she acknowledged the Black women who paved the way for such honors, including her friend and mentor, the late Cicely Tyson, the first Black actress to receive an honorary Academy Award.
The actress also paid homage to Hattie McDaniel, the trailblazer who, in 1940, became the first Black person to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in “Gone With the Wind.” Bassett reflected on the slow progression of historic wins for Black actresses, noting the significant gaps between McDaniel’s achievement, Whoopi Goldberg’s win for “Ghost,” and Halle Berry’s groundbreaking success in “Monster’s Ball.”
Acknowledging the impact of each Black woman who has won the coveted award, Bassett highlighted them as “Ten actresses who are makers of history in our industry.” She called out their names, recognizing them as beacons of possibility and hope for aspiring Black and brown girls dreaming of a career in acting.
The list of Black female Oscar winners expanded to include Jennifer Hudson, Mo’Nique, Octavia Spencer, Lupita Nyong’o, Viola Davis, Regina King, and Ariana DeBose, each contributing significantly to the industry.
With 40 years in the industry, Bassett emphasized that the honor extended beyond herself. She envisioned a future where embracing diverse perspectives and stories is the norm, not the exception. Encouraging unity among Black actresses, she urged them to remember their worth and the importance of their contributions, emphasizing that standing together leads to collective victories.
In a powerful conclusion, Bassett declared, “The best is yet to come,” leaving us inspired by her words and hopeful for a more inclusive and diverse future in Hollywood.