Twitter erupted in disappointment Tuesday, Jan. 24, when Taraji P. Henson failed to earn an Oscar nomination for “Hidden Figures,” even as three other Black nominees made history for the usually white ceremony.
Henson has won praise for her role as real-life NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, but the Academy Awards did not recognize her performance. Instead, the nominees for Best Actress in a Leading Role went to Isabelle Huppert for “Elle,” Natalie Portman for “Jackie,” Emma Stone for “La La Land,” Meryl Streep for “Florence Foster Jenkins” and Ruth Negga for “Loving,” the sole Black actress nominated in the category.
The Academy’s shunning of Henson led to outrage on Twitter and reactions ranged from humorous to feelings of bewilderment.
— Mylie James (@lovejohns88) January 24, 2017
Why didn't taraji get nominated but the lady with 10 lines did?
— Queen Kenya (@trapgodkenya) January 24, 2017
Also, am I the only one upset Taraji didn't get nominated?? Congrats to Octavia, but hidden figures deserves more than 1 acting nom
— tia dani (@danieelacova) January 24, 2017
Many concluded Henson’s monologue should have been enough to earn a nomination.
The monologue when Taraji comes back from the bathroom in the rain ALONE should have earned her an Oscar nom.
— Ari LaBeija (@TheBaddestMitch) January 24, 2017
After watching Taraji P. Henson deliver that bathroom monologue with Kevin Costner, I just knew she would be nominated. I was wrong #Oscars
— Yukio Strachan (@boldandworthy) January 24, 2017
Some questioned how singer Justin Timberlake and actress Meryl Streep earned a nomination but Henson was left out.
i don't understand how taraji didn't get a nomination but justin timberlake did
— Bri (@BriMalandro) January 24, 2017
Taraji P Henson snubbed and another ho hum Meryl Streep nomination
— RDHULL (@RDHulll) January 24, 2017
The Oscars did recognize three other Black actresses, including Henson’s “Hidden Figures” co-star Octavia Spencer. Spencer’s NASA supervisor role of Dorothy Vaughan along with Naomie Harris’s role as a crack-addicted mother in “Moonlight” and Viola Davis’ emotional turn in “Fences,” made history when they earned nominations for Best Supporting Actress. It’s the first time that three nominees in one category are Black.
Davis also made history on her own. Her role in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s play earned Davis a record third Oscar nomination. She had been tied with Whoopi Goldberg for the most Academy Award nominations by a Black actress. Davis’ previous nominations came in 2009 (Best Supporting Actress, “Doubt”) and 2012 (Best Actress, “The Help”). Goldberg got a Best Actress nomination for “The Color Purple” in 1986 and a Best Supporting Actress nod for “Ghost” in 1991, which she won.
The achievement puts her closer to gaining more chances to show her talent in Hollywood, which is something she spoke to during her 2015 Emmy Awards acceptance speech.
“The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is opportunity,” Davis said.