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'Oscar Wars' explores behind-the-scenes drama of Hollywood's biggest awards show

The cover of "Oscar Wars" and author Michael Schulman. (Courtesy of Ethan James Green)
The cover of "Oscar Wars" and author Michael Schulman. (Courtesy of Ethan James Green)

New Yorker writer Michael Schulman dives into the scandalous history of the Academy Awards in his book “Oscar Wars.”

Lily Gladstone is up for the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in “Killers of the Flower Moon.” If she wins on Sunday, she’ll be the first Native American woman to do so. But many Oscar firsts came with controversy; The first Black woman to win an Oscar — Hattie McDaniel received Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” — was seated at a segregated table when she won in 1940.

More than a decade later in 1964, Sidney Poitier became the first Black actor to win Best Actor for his role in “Lilies of the Field.” And it wasn’t until 2002 that Halle Berry became the first Black winner of Best Actress and gave an iconic speech for her role in “Monster’s Ball.”

Schulman dedicates a chapter of his book to telling these three Black actors’ stories that span across decades.

“As I look closer at those three individual stories and how their careers and lives unfolded, they were all very isolated,” Schulman says, “and they all had this burden of representing an entire race of people who had not been let into the Academy Awards.”

Watch the full conversation with the New Yorker’s Michael Schulman

Watch on YouTube.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.