Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, and Forest Whitaker stand as the only African American men to have ever won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Only sixteen African American men have ever been nominated for the Best Actor award and have stood alone as the only black man within the category during their respective years of nomination, with the exception of Will Smith and Whitaker in 2006. With the help of Harvey Weintstein, these statistics may soon change.
The list of films that the Weinstein Company will be distributing in 2013 is unsurprisingly impressive and includes much-anticipated works ranging from Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives and Oliver Dahan of La Vie en Rose fame’s Grace of Monaco. Among these films stand The Butler, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and Fruitvale Station, all three of which feature black actors as leads. Whitaker stars as Cecil Gains, the head butler throughout eight U.S. presidencies during the span of 1952 to 1986, in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Idris Elba tackles the role of historical figure Nelson Mandela in Justin Chadwick’s Mandela, and Michael B. Jordan(Chronicle) stands at the center of Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station. Coogler’s film conquered Sundance, and though Mandela and The Butler have yet to premiere, promise of further Oscar nods for African American actors this year is strong.