Despite all the markers of excellence, contenders like Danielle Deadwyler, Viola Davis and Beyoncé weren’t recognized for the highest honors. Niche awards don’t suffice.
By Salamishah Tillet
Feb. 11, 2023
I didn’t see it coming, but maybe I should have.
That refrain has been popping into my head repeatedly since learning that neither Viola Davis (“The Woman King”) nor Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”) was nominated for the best actress Oscar and that Andrea Riseborough and Ana de Armas had emerged as this year’s spoilers.
It came to mind again on Sunday night when the Grammys awarded Harry Styles’s “Harry’s House” album of the year, not Beyoncé’s “Renaissance.” Though she made history that night as the most Grammy-winning artist of all time, this was Beyoncé’s fourth shutout from the industry’s most coveted category and another stark reminder that the last Black woman to take home that award was Lauryn Hill—24 years ago. This time the message was loud and clear: Beyoncé, one of the most prolific and transformative artists of the 21st century, can win only in niche categories. Her music—a continually evolving and genre-defying sound—still can’t be seen as the standard-bearer for the universal.
The music and movie industries differ in many ways, but their prizes are similarly determined by the predominantly older white male members of the movie and recording academies.