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Golden Globe nominees show that black actors and actresses are finally getting a wide variety of roles

By Shaun King,

Last week, after we learned that, for the first time in history, the five most nominated artists for the Grammy Awards were all black artists, I wrote a column on the beautiful renaissance of black art and culture that we are in right now. It has echoes from previous eras where the pendulum of black culture always swings in response to the strength of injustice and oppression in the country.

Let me be clear that we don’t need awards from other bodies to determine how rich our culture is. Denzel didn’t win an Academy Award for “Malcolm X,” but we all know that it was the performance of a lifetime.

With that in mind, however, the Golden Globe nominees were announced Monday and I wanna take a moment to double down on the richness of black art in America right now. In film and television, really for the first time in our lives, black folk are getting a wide variety of leading roles that go beyond slaves, thugs and nannies.

The most prestigious nomination for the entire ceremony is Best Most Picture — Drama — and a film that was written by black folk, directed by black folk, and stars black folk – named “Moonlight” — which is the painful coming-of-age story of a young boy in the Deep South, and it’s nominated for Best Picture. Barry Jenkins, the director, was nominated not only for Best Director, but best original screenplay as well. Also, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali, who play powerful roles in the film, were each nominated. We’ve never seen black characters with the color and nuance like the ones you get to see in “Moonlight.”

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Donald Glover (l.) in “Atlanta.” (FX)

If you have not yet seen a preview for “Fences,” starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, you have to see it. The film comes out nationwide on Christmas Day. Again, we have yet another film, originally written by the playwright August Wilson, directed by Denzel himself, and starring a prestigious black cast. Both Denzel and Viola Davis were nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress. This weekend, Viola won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress.

Ruth Negga is a name you’ve probably never heard before, but she stars in the new film “Loving,” which is about an interracial couple in the Jim Crow South, and Ruth stars as Mildred Loving — the wife and mother whose relationship was deemed illegal and went all the way to the Supreme Court. Ruth was nominated for Best Actress in a drama.

“Hidden Figures,” which is about the essential roles black women played at NASA during pioneering space launches, also comes out on Christmas Day. Octavia Spencer was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in the film.

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Ruth Negga (2nd from r.) and Joel Edgerton (r.) in “Loving.” (FOCUS FEATURES)

Two of the five comedies that were nominated for best TV Comedy Series have black casts — and they are “Black-ish” and “Atlanta.” From those shows, Anthony Anderson and Donald Glover, who crack me up every week, were each nominated. Tracee-Ellis Ross was also nominated for her hilarious role in “Black-ish.” “Black-ish” brings its A-game week in and week out. And my friend, Issa Rae, who stars in the new HBO hit, “Insecure,” was also nominated for best actress in TV comedy. I’m so incredibly proud of her.

No show on television was nominated for more Golden Globes than the breakout hit “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” I think it’s going to come away as a huge winner and it was one of my favorite TV miniseries of all time. Not only was the show nominated, but Courtney B. Vance was nominated for Best Actor for his role as Johnny Cochran, and Sterling K. Brown, who played Christopher Darden so well that when I think of Christopher Darden I now think of Sterling K. Brown, was also nominated. Arguably, he should’ve also been nominated for his role in the beautiful new show, This Is Us, as well. Sterling K. Brown is a star.

Last but not least, I want to highlight Kerry Washington and Thandie Newton. We all know Kerry, of course, from her leading role in “Scandal,” but she’s nominated this year for her role as Anita Hill in the HBO television special, “Confirmation.”



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