According to Variety, Viola will campaign in the lead actress category, while co-stars Thuso Mbedu, Sheila Atim, Jayme Lawson, Adrienne Warren and Lashana Lynch will compete for supporting actress. John Boyega will be submitted for supporting actor. This doesn’t mean they will all get nominated, it just clarifies things for the studio as awards season begins.
Whether or not the film actually receives nominations is anyone’s guess. It’s no secret that Black films and actors don’t always get the recognition they deserve and The Woman King may be hindered by controversy surrounding its historical accuracy–though, that didn’t seem to bother awards organizations when Braveheart and Gladiator were winning tons of trophies.
In addition to the truckload of awards she’s won, Davis also has an Oscar, Emmy and two Tonys. With four nominations, she’s received more Academy Award nods than any other Black actress.
Despite all her stellar accolades, the How to Get Away With Murder star will face serious competition in her latest awards push. Per Collider, previous Oscar winners Olivia Colman (Empire of Light) and Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans) are already getting buzz for their performances.
Davis was last nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2021 for her work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The only Black actress to win in that category is Halle Berry in 2002 for Monster’s Ball.
“It didn’t open the door. The fact that there’s no one standing next to me is heartbreaking,” Berry told The New York Times in March. “We can’t always judge success or progress by how many awards we have. Awards are the icing on the cake—they’re your peers saying you were exceptionally excellent this year—but does that mean that if we don’t get the exceptionally excellent nod, that we were not great, and we’re not successful, and we’re not changing the world with our art, and our opportunities aren’t growing?”
While Halle is absolutely right in saying that outside validation from awards isn’t the best judge of a film’s true success, we also need to acknowledge the hard truth that they are important to the industry. For a studio to feel the next Black women-led action movie is worth its time, The Woman King has to deliver rewards at both the box office and during awards season. Even if it receives a lot of nominations and no wins, in this case the nods are the win because it sets the stage for future projects.