Angela Bassett Shouts Out 'Trailblazing' Black Actresses While Accepting Honorary Oscar: This 'Isn't Just for or About Me'
Angela Bassett Shouts Out 'Trailblazing' Black Actresses While Accepting Honorary Oscar: This 'Isn't Just for or About Me'
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On Jan. 9, 2024 the actress was recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her contributions to the film industry at the 14th Governors Awards.

Angela Bassett Receives an Honorary Oscar Award

Angela Bassett added another accolade to her shelf at the 14th Governors Awards, where she received an Honorary Oscar for her contributions to the film industry.

As she accepted the award onstage, Bassett, 65, used part of her speech to shout out "trailblazing" Black actresses who came before her, like Ruby Dee, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Rosalind Cash. "They were my North Star, my guiding light, proof that while the road may not be without curves and bumps, there was a way to fulfill what I believed deep in my soul was my destiny," she said.

"It was standing on their strong, spiritually fortified shoulders that I often was sustained, and I thank them for every sacrifice, every doubt, every disappointment, every rejection, every triumph that I know they experienced along the way," Bassett continued. "Because had it not been for their resilience, continuing to fight through their fears and the uncertainty and their willingness as they fought for every role, I would not have had a representation of what was possible for me."

"But this honor isn't just for or about me," she went on. "What I hope this moment means is that we are taking the necessary steps toward a future in which it is the norm, not the exception, to see and embrace one another's full humanity, stories and perspectives."

Bassett added, "This must be our goal, and to always remember that there is room for us all. When we stand together, we win together."

 

During her lengthy speech, Bassett also pointed out how few Black women have won a Best Actress Oscar (only Halle Berry), and gave props to fellow Black actresses "who are makers of history in our industry," including Jennifer Hudson, Regina King, Viola Davis, Mo'Nique, Lupita Nyong'o, Octavia Spencer and Ariana DeBose.

"To my fellow Black actresses, fill your hearts with courage and strength, because regardless of what you may think or see or feel, your contributions do matter," Bassett said. "Take comfort knowing that your performances have given hope, offered a different perspective and, for others, just pure joy in a time of need. Never allow fear, frustration or disappointment to get in the way of blessings that are divinely and deservedly yours. Remember who you are and who our ancestors intended you to be — us to be."

"I proudly share this honor with women who stand up when they are told to stand back, who speak up when they are silenced, who remain determined when they're told they're defeated," she added. "These women represent those that I've had the honor to portray, as well as the everyday women who surround us and inspire us to keep striving."

On June 26, 2023, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Bassett, along with actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks and film editor Carol Littleton, would receive Honorary Oscars at the ceremony, which was originally scheduled for Nov. 18.

“Across her decades-long career, Angela Bassett has continued to deliver transcendent performances that set new standards in acting,” Academy President Janet Yang said in a press release at the time.

Previously, Bassett earned two Oscar nominations. In 1993, she received a Best Actress nod for her portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with It. Her performance as Queen Ramonda in 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever notched her a Best Supporting Actress nomination. 

Some of her other notable film roles include Betty Shabazz in Spike Lee’s 1992 biographical drama Malcolm X, as well as Bernadine in the 1995 romantic drama Waiting to Exhale. 

The Academy's Honorary Oscar comes after a successful year during awards season for Bassett, who also nabbed a Golden Globe in 2023 as well as nominations at the BAFTAs and SAG Awards for her performance in the Black Panther sequel. 

Voted on by the Academy’s Board of Governors, the Honorary Oscar is “given to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy."

Among past recipients of the award are Tyson, Samuel L. Jackson, Donald Sutherland and Jackie Chan. 

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