This year’s Oscar nominations have been historic in so many ways. Not only does the 2021 Academy Award nominations celebrate diversity, it also happens to mark many firsts with its released list of contenders.
On Monday evening IST, when real-life couple and global icons Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas took the stage to announce the nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards, it was kind of a given to expect a few surprises and snubs, as is the case nearly ever year. After all, you cannot please everyone! However, the final list of nominees came as a great surprise, especially considering the number of ground-breaking nominations we have had for people of colour.
From the two women directors being nominated to two men of Asian descent contesting for the Best Actor trophy, here’s a quick look at all the firsts that the 93rd Academy Award nominations brought with it.
Riz Ahmed is is the first Muslim nominated for lead actor Oscar
Riz Ahmed, who has been nominated for his stellar act in Amazon movie Sound of Metal, is the first Muslim actor to be nominated in the Best Actor category. He is also the first actor of Pakistani descent to be contesting in the aforementioned category.
Steven Yeun is first Asian-American to be nominated in Best Actor category
Steven Yeun is the first Asian-American actor to be nominated in the said category. Interestingly, this is also the first time two men of Asian descent are fighting for the honour of the Best Actor Oscar, the other nominee being Riz Ahmed.
Chloe Zhao’s nomination for Best Director
Chloe Zhao is the first woman of colour to be nominated in directing category. Also, she and Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell are among those rare’ women’ who have been nominated for the Best Director category. What’s more is Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland and Lee Issac Chung’s Minari marks the first time that two Asian artistes’ directorial ventures have been nominated in the Best Picture category.
Lee Issac Chung and Chloe Zhao also happen to be the first two Asian directors to be competing against each other in the directing category.
Viola Davis is the most nominated Black actor in Oscar history
Viola Davis’ nomination in the Best Actress category for her role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is revolutionary in more ways than one. You see, this is not the first time Davis has been nominated for an Oscar. This is the actor’s fourth nomination, which further makes her the most nominated Black Actor ever in Oscar history!
Youn Yuh-jung’s nomination
The 73-year-old Youn’s performance in Minari impressed many, and this resulted in Youn getting her first Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category, which makes her the only Korean woman to be nominated for an Oscar!
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All these changes, especially the marked change in the rise of Asian nominations is momentous also because of the rise of hate crimes that have been perpetrated in the US in recent past against the community. Riz Ahmed shared his elation by sharing a post on Instagram about the achievement. The actor thanked his collaborators and wrote, “Wow! I’m honoured to be nominated by my fellow actors alongside such inspiring performances, and am grateful to the Academy for their support and encouragement. I’m equally thrilled for our visionary writer-director Darius Marder and the brilliant Paul Raci, as well as our editor Mikkel, sound designer Nicolas, and co-writer Abe Marder. These nominations represents the time, generosity and talents of so many — all of our incredible cast, crew, producers, and in particular I’d like to thank my mentors in the drumming, addiction recovery, and D/deaf communities.”
“Sound of Metal is about how a health crisis can cut you off from your life and loved ones, and force you to grow in unexpected ways. In a challenging year for so many, I hope this story can inspire us to forge new and deeper connections with ourselves and others,” Riz concluded.
Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell posted she’s ‘never going to stop crying.’ While Viola Davis shared a post which read, “Absolutely thrilled!! Congratulations to the whole Ma Rainey team. Deserved!”
The 2021 Oscars will be held on April 25 GMT in Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre.