It was 2002, and many Black people around the world held their breath as the winner of Best Actress was called at the 74th Academy Awards. As we all know, that night, Halle Berry became the first African American woman to win the coveted award for her role in Monster’s Ball. Days following the historic moment, several people tried to cheapen her win due to the provocative, pornographic scene she shared with Bill Bob Thornton. Nonetheless, the majority was proud.
With a face full of tears and a choked up start, her emotional speech paid homage to several great Black women–Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Jada Pinkett and others. Ten years later, Viola Davis faces the same huge win, alongside Octavia Spencer who’s nominated for Best Supporting Actress. We’re yearning for more proud moments on the Academy Award stage, and we believe their incredible performances in The Help will garner just that. In advance, we urge you not to cheapen their wins (yes, we believe they’ll take the awards home!) by waywardly dissecting their roles. The film was an eye-opening look at a page in our history. We only hope the Academy sees their performances as win-worthy as we do.