African-American Milestones in Movies and TV

by IMDb-Editors | last updated - 4 months ago

To celebrate Black History Month, sample just a few of the many accomplishments of African-Americans in movies and television in the United States.

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1
Hattie McDaniel

First African-American to win an Academy Award: Hattie McDaniel, Best Supporting Actress for Gone With the Wind (1939)

2
Ethel Waters

First African-American to be featured on a sitcom: Ethel Waters as Beulah in "Beulah" (1950)

3
Harry Belafonte and Nat 'King' Cole in The Nat King Cole Show (1954)

First African-American to host a network television show: Nat 'King' Cole in "The Nat King Cole Show" (1954)

4
Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones (1954)

First African-American nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress: Dorothy Dandridge for Carmen Jones (1954)

5
Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones (1958)

First African-American actor to be nominated for an Academy Award: Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones (1958)

6
Sidney Poitier in Lilies of the Field (1963)

First African-American to win an Academy Award: Sidney Poitier, Best Actor for Lillies of the Field (1963)

7
Cicely Tyson in East Side/West Side (1963)

First African-American star of a TV drama: Cicely Tyson in "East Wide/West Side" (1963)

8
Diahann Carroll

First African-American actor (male or female) to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award: Diahann Carroll for "Naked City" in 1963

9
Bill Cosby and Robert Culp in I Spy (1965)

First African-American in a lead role in primetime TV: Bill Cosby in "I Spy" (1965)

Cosby is also the first African-American (male or female) to win a Primetime Emmy Award, for "I Spy" in 1966

10
Gordon Parks in The Learning Tree (1969)

First African-American to direct a major Hollywood film: Gordon Parks, who directed The Learning Tree (1969) for Warner Brothers

11
Joel Grey and Isaac Hayes at an event for The 44th Annual Academy Awards (1972)

First African-American to win a non-acting Academy Award: Isaac Hayes, who won the award for Best Original Song for the "Theme From Shaft" from Shaft (1972)

12
Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford at an event for The Jeffersons (1975)

First African-American actress to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Isabel Sanford for "The Jeffersons" in 1981

13
Richard Gere and Louis Gossett Jr. in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)

First African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor: Louis Gossett Jr. for An Officer and a Gentleman (1983)

14
Prince in Purple Rain (1984)

First African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score: Prince for Purple Rain (1985)

15
Quincy Jones

First African-American producer to be nominated for Best Picture: Quincy Jones for The Color Purple (1985)

16
Robert Guillaume at an event for The 37th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (1985)

First African-American actor to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Robert Guillaume for "Benson" in 1985

17
Oprah Winfrey and Prince in The Oprah Winfrey Show (1984)

First African-American woman to host a daytime talk show: Oprah Winfrey in "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (1986)

18
Herbie Hancock at an event for The 57th Annual Grammy Awards (2015)

First African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Original Score: Herbie Hancock for 'Round Midnight (1987)

19
Morgan Freeman at an event for The 47th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1990)

First African-American actor to win a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy: Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

20
John Singleton at an event for The Oscars (2016)

First African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director: John Singleton for Boyz n the Hood (1992)

21
Angela Bassett in What's Love Got to Do with It (1993)

First African-American actress to win Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy: Angela Bassett in What's Love Got to Do With It (1993)

22
Whoopi Goldberg at an event for The 63rd Annual Academy Awards (1991)

First African-American to host the Academy Awards solo: Whoopi Goldberg (1994)

23
Denzel Washington in Glory (1989)

First African-American to win two Academy Awards for acting: Denzel Washington in Glory (1989), for which he won Best Supporting Actor, and Training Day (2001), for which he won Best Actor

24
Halle Berry in Monster's Ball (2001)

First African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actress: Halle Berry for Monster's Ball (2001)

25
The Princess and the Frog (2009)

First Disney Princess of African-American Heritage: Tiana, heroine of The Princess of the Frog (2009), who was voiced by Anika Noni Rose

26
Viola Davis in How to Get Away with Murder (2014)

First African-American actress to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Viola Davis for "How to Get Away With Murder" in 2015

27
Lena Waithe at an event for The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards (2017)

First African-American woman to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series: Lena Waithe for "Master of None" in 2017

28
Sterling K. Brown at an event for The 75th Golden Globe Awards (2018)

First African-American actor to win a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama: Sterling K. Brown for "This Is Us" in 2017

29
Sterling K. Brown

First African-American actor to win a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series: Sterling K. Brown for "This Is Us" in 2017

30
Oprah Winfrey at an event for The 75th Golden Globe Awards (2018)

First African-American woman to win a Cecil B. DeMille Award: Oprah Winfrey in 2017