Oscars’ big winners made history in 2019, three years after the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag was used to highlight the lack of diversity in the film industry.
Spike Lee won his first, non-honorary Oscar for his adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman” while Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler became the first African-American women to win in their respective fields of costume designer and production designer for “Black Panther”,
Alfonso Cuaron, a Mexican director, won three Oscars as best director, best cinematography and best foreign film for “Roma.”
Other winners included Regina King as best-supporting-actress, Mahershala Ali as best supporting actor and Rami Malek, “the son of immigrants from Egypt” as best actor.
In his acceptance speech, Lee pointed out the Oscars were taking place 400 years after the first slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619.
Lee also acknowledged that the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag was started by April Reign while former academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs was the key to expanding the membership.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be here tonight,” said Lee. He added that Reign and Isaacs “opened up the academy to make it more like America, to make it more diverse.”
In addition to Lee’s sentiments, Carter talked backstage that their historic awards mean “we have opened up the door; finally the door is wide open. This means other people can come right in and win an Oscar just like I did.”
Malek, who won the Oscar his “Bohemian Rhapsody” portrayal of Queen singer Freddie Mercury, said that he never thought anyone who looks like him could play a lead role. He was motivated to play Freddie Mercury when he learned that the late singer’s real name was Farrokh Bulsara.