Making History

The 91st Academy Awards were held last night (February 24th, 2019). A total of 55 Oscar statuettes were handed out to 50 different people. Of those 50 people, 22 were women and/or people of colour. That’s 44% of the winners.

Women & People of Colour Oscars

Mahershala Ali

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Ali (Supporting Actor)

Mahershala Ali won his second Oscar for his role in Green Book. He won two years ago (in the same category) for his role in Moonlight. With this win, he becomes the second-ever person of colour to win multiple Oscars for acting. The first was Denzel Washington (Best Supporting Actor 1989 – Glory; Best Actor 2001 – Training Day).

Hannah Beachler

Best Achievement in Production Design

Beachler (Production Design)

Hannah Beachler not only made history as the first black winner for Best Production Design, but also as the category’s first-ever black nominee. She won her award for her work on Marvel’s Black Panther. Along with Ruth E. Carter, she became the first black woman to win a competitive Oscar in a non-acting category in 30 years.

Melissa Berton and Rayka Zehtabchi

Best Documentary Short Subject

Berton (Documentary Short)

Melissa Berton, a producer from San Diego, and Rayka Zehtabchi, an Iranian-American producer/director based in LA, won Oscars for their Netflix Original documentary short, Period. End of Sentence., a film about Indian women fighting to end the stigma surrounding menstruation and manufacturing sanitary pads. Berton shared their Oscars with the California high school girls who helped raise the money needed to build the machine to make the pads and start the non-profit “The Pad Project”, because “a period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.”

Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Dehaney (Makeup)

Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney won Best Makeup and Hairstyling on their first nominations for their work on the Dick Cheney biopic, Vice. Both women’s earliest credits go back to the mid-90’s.

Ruth E. Carter

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Carter (Costume Design)

Met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation, Ruth E. Carter was the first Black Panther victory of the night, winning the award for her stunning Costume Design in the record-breaking blockbuster. Previously nominated for her work in Malcolm X (1992) and Amistad (1997), Carter became the first African American woman to win in this category. Alongside fellow Black Panther designer, Hannah Beachler, she also became the first black woman to win a non-acting Oscar in 30 years.

Jimmy Chin, Shannon Dill, and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Best Documentary Feature

Chin (Documentary Feature)

National Geographic’s thrilling documentary Free Solo won the Oscar for Documentary Feature. Among the four winners were the film’s directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. Chin and Vasarhelyi also produced the film with Shannon Dill. Chin is also credited for the film’s stunning and death-defying cinematography.

Olivia Colman

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Colman (Actress)

Olivia Colman gave my favourite performance of the year as Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite. I was nonetheless stunned when she was announced as the winner over Glenn Close, who had been the clear frontrunner going into the night. I clapped my hands to my mouth and watched with tear-filled eyes as Colman gave the funniest and most-endearing speech of the night. I had initially intended this list to be specifically for people of colour in any category and women in non-gender specific categories, but she would have been the only woman not included. I just couldn’t do that, because Olivia Colman is a national treasure.

Alfonso Cuarón

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Cuaron (Director, Cinematography, Foreign Language)

Alfonso Cuarón took home his third and fourth Oscars, winning this year for his work in Directing and Cinematography on the Netflix Original film Roma. He also accepted the award for Best Foreign Language Film for Roma; however that category is awarded to countries not individuals. Cuarón has been nominated for a total 10 Oscars, winning previously for his work in Directing and Film Editing on the Sandra Bullock sci-fi thriller Gravity (2013).

Lady Gaga

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)

Gaga (Original Song)

Lady Gaga earned two nominations for her work in Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born remake, one for Original Song and the other for Best Actress, becoming the first woman to be nominated in the same year for those categories. While she didn’t win for Best Actress, she more than earned her statuette for her work on the film’s hit song “Shallow”.

Nina Hartstone

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Hartstone (Sound Editing)

Nina Hartstone became the fifth-ever woman to win an Oscar for Sound Editing. She won for her work on the Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody.

Regina King

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

King (Supporting Actress)

Regina King is now the 8th black woman to win Best Supporting Actress. She won for her work in the Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk.

Spike Lee and Kevin Willmott

Best Adapted Screenplay

91st Annual Academy Awards - Show

Spike Lee won his long overdue Oscar, winning with fellow black screenwriter Kevin Willmott for their work together on BlacKkKlansman. Lee received an Honorary Award in 2016. He had previously received nominations in Best Original Screenplay for Do the Right Thing (1989) and Best Documentary Feature for 4 Little Girls (1997). This year, he was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for BlacKkKlansman. This was Kevin Willmott’s first Oscar nomination.

Rami Malek

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Malek (Actor)

Rami Malek became the first Egyptian American actor to win Best Actor. He won for his role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. With Malek’s win, this also became the first year where 3 of the 4 acting Oscars were awarded to people of colour.

Becky Neiman and Domee Shi

Best Animated Short Film

Neiman (Animated Short)

Domee Shi won her first Oscar for writing, directing, and producing the Disney-Pixar animated short Bao. She shares the award with producer Becky Neiman.

Jaime Ray Newman

Best Live Action Short Film


Michiganite, Jaime Ray Newman won with her husband, Israeli-born Guy Nattiv, for their work on the controversial live action short film Skin.

Peter Ramsey

Best Animated Feature Film

Ramsey (Animated Feature)

One of a five-man team, Peter Ramsey won his Oscar for his directing work on the Sony animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.


It was so incredible to see such a diverse group of winners. I can only hope that the diversity continues to grow, and women and people of colour continue to be recognised for their bodies of work.