Ruby Dee Gets Her First Oscar Nomination

The long-time actress is the only African American actor nominated this year

study on casting practices in Hollywood suggests that men were almost three times as likely as women to work in first-billed lead roles in a film, and whites occupied 82% of those top slots; the study was based on 171 films from 2005 with gross revenues of at least $1 million.

Though it would be nice to have more African American actors nominated this year, it is somewhat ironically befitting that Dee is the lone African American nominee. After all, it was Dee, Davis and a handful of other African American actors such as Paul Robeson, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, Harry Belafonte, and Beah Richards, who frequently stood alone, putting their lives and careers on the line during the height of the civil rights movement in the fight to achieve many of the things we take for granted today. So win or lose on Oscar night, Dee has, in fact, already won. She’s our queen on screen and off. Let’s just hope the Academy thinks so, too.

George Alexander’s column on the business of entertainment appears weekly at He is the author of Why We Make Movies (DoubledayHarlemMoon; $15.95), andQueens: Portraits of Black Women and their Fabulous Hair (Doubleday; $29.95).

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