Sunday's Oscar Awards Represent the Most Racially Diverse Nominations in the Academy's History

Viola Davis starred in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
Viola Davis portrayed the legendary blues singer in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."Netflix

"And the Oscar goes to"... The most racially diverse list of nominees in the 93-year history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

This year's Oscar ceremony will make history for a whole lot of reasons, but none more notable than the fact that this year's nominees are the most racially diverse collection of all time.

Sunday's broadcast occurs against the backdrop of an international pandemic, coupled with the mind-bending reality that most of America hasn't stepped foot in a movie theater for more than a year.

The awards show will highlight these racial and gender breakthroughs: nine actors of color nominated for an Oscar, the first woman of color nominated for best director, the first black actor to be nominated for a posthumous Oscar and the first time two women were named in the director's category.

Chloé Zhao, who filmed "Nomadland," joins fellow nominee Emerald Fennell, director of “Promising Young Woman,” making 2021 the first year more than one woman has been nominated in this category.

Steven Yeun of "Minari" is the first Asian American actor to be nominated for best actor. Riz Ahmed, the star of "“Sound of Metal,” is the first Muslim to be nominated in that category.

Youn Yuh-jung  of "Minari," is the first Korean woman to be nominated for any acting award.

The list of Black artists includes best actress nominees Viola Davis for "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and Andra Day for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday," and best supporting actor nominees Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah," Leslie Odom Jr. for “One Night in Miami” and LaKeith Stanfield for “Judas and the Black Messiah."

The nominee list follows decades of white male dominance in the 93-year history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

In 2015, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite launched a social justice campaign that noted 92 percent of top film directors were men and 86 percent of top films featured white actors in leading roles. The highly publicized drive to include more artists of color and women has gained momentum ever since.

Last year, the South Korean film "Parasite" won four awards: best picture, best director, best original screenplay and best international feature film. It was also the first non-English language film and the first South Korean movie to win best picture.

This year, the list of firsts also includes the late, acclaimed actor Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 at the age of 43 after battling colon cancer. The revered star of "Black Panther" is nominated for best actor for his performance as a deeply troubled horn player in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

If selected, Boseman would become the first Black actor to receive a posthumous Oscar.

The full list of nominees can be found here.