It was a night that had the potential to make history – Angela Bassett, one of Hollywood’s most accomplished actresses, was among the nominees for the Best Supporting Actress award at the 2023 Academy Awards. Bassett had been receiving rave reviews for her performance in the emotionally charged “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”, which had touched the hearts of audiences worldwide.
However, much to the disappointment of many, Bassett ultimately lost out on the award, with the Oscar going to Jamie Lee Curtis for her role in “Everything Everywhere All At Once”. Post Oscars many fans of “Everything Everywhere All At Once” are stating that although Curtis is a good actress, it is newcomer and fellow Best Supporting Actress nominee Stephanie Hsu that shined in the film. Many agreed that Hsu should have took home the award since the Academy decided not to award to Bassett. That is another debate for another day. For those who know and admire Bassett, her loss was hard to take.
There are several reasons why Angela Bassett’s Oscar loss was difficult for so many people.
Firstly, for many in the black community, Bassett represents an icon of perseverance and success. She has been a force in Hollywood for over three decades, defying stereotypes and showing that black women can lead films and tell important stories. Many hoped that her well-deserved nomination would translate into a win, a sign of progress and recognition for an actress who has been so influential and deserving.
Secondly, many felt that Bassett’s performance in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” was one of her best to date. The film tells the story of a nation mourning the loss of their beloved king, T’Challa (most notably portrayed by the late Chadwick Boseman), a queen challenged to lead the nation of Wakanda during times of uncertainty post Thanos’ snap while helping her daughter deal with the loss of her beloved brother and find the warrior within. Bassett’s portrayal of Queen Ramonda was described as powerful and nuanced, a perfect example of why she had earned her place among the nominees. To see her lose the award again was a disappointment for those who appreciated her work.
Finally, for many, the loss was a reminder of the larger systemic issues that exist within the film industry. Despite progress being made, there are still barriers that exist for women and people of color, often making it difficult for them to be recognized and given equal opportunities. Bassett’s loss was seen by some as evidence of those structural issues, highlighting the ongoing need for change and equity in Hollywood. This ideal was further supported by the numerous posts on Tik Tok and Twitter by white posters that scorned Bassett for not standing to applaud Curtis’ win and appearing to fight back tears. Many of those posters had the gaul to call her “sore loser” and “poor sport.” An Australian Tik Toker even went as far to state that Bassett’s reaction was that of a “petulant child.” However, many people of color have doubled down on calling out a racial double standard noting that “Banshees of Inisherin” actress and fellow Best Supporting Actress nominee, Kerry Condon, had a similar reaction yet has not been given the same vitriol and criticism by white posters as Bassett.
Despite the disappointment, those who admire Bassett will continue to support and celebrate her work. After all, an Oscar win is just one accolade among many for a woman who has accomplished so much and who continues to inspire others. While the loss was hard, it doesn’t change the fact that Angela Bassett is a true Hollywood icon and one of the most talented actresses of her generation. For many of us our sentiments and feelings for Ms. Bassett were summed up in the eloquent words that were spoken that night by Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors, “Hey Auntie. We love you.”