State of the Oscars: Diverse field highlights Academy Awards race in 2021

LOS ANGELES -- Oscar nominations were announced a couple of weeks ago, a time when even the biggest stars in the world cross their fingers and try to keep calm.

Amanda Seyfried, one of this year's contenders, said her nomination was a "massive bonus." She learned about the career milestone from her mom during a "beautiful moment" the morning of the announcement.

She has a supporting role in "Mank," a film telling the story of Hollywood's golden age, and it takes its name from a screenwriter who everyone called "Mank."

It has the most Oscar nods this year, with a total of 10 -- including one for Seyfried. She plays Marion Davies, an early 20th century movie star who was born in New York City.

"I'm not going to let this moment pass by without seeing it for what it is," she said. "Which is just a symbol of the impact that I might have had and that 'Mank' has had."

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Also in the running in her category is Youn Yuh-Jung, who portrays the grandmother in the family drama "Minari."

At the Screen Actors Guild Awards, she won as part of a sweep in individual film awards by performers of color.

That sweep also included the late Chadwick Boseman for his supporting role in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

His widow, Simone Ledward Boseman, quoted him in her acceptance speech, saying, "If you see the world unbalanced, be a crusader that pushes heavily on the seesaw of the mind."

"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "Judas and the Black Messiah," "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," and "One Night in Miami" all tell vital chapters of Black history, and all these films feature performers nominated for an Oscar this year.

The net result is a new chapter in the history of the Oscars, says Brande Victorian, senior entertainment editor for Essence magazine.

"It is the most diverse year that we've seen," she said.

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She also noted that the field is more diverse in one important category.

"Best Director, we have two women, you know, which has not happened before," she said. "So there was a great deal of diversity just across the board."

It is a sign of progress, but still, Victorian said Regina King was robbed of a nomination as Best Director for "One Night in Miami."

"That is the universal snub everyone felt," she said. "They definitely expected her to get the nod."

Still, while there is no doubt of King's successful transition from performer to director, a long journey towards greater inclusion still lies ahead.

Mark your calendars: April 25 is Oscar Sunday. Live coverage begins Sunday morning and continues all day with special "On The Red Carpet" coverage leading up to the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony. After the last award is handed out, stay with "On The Red Carpet" for continuing coverage. Be sure to follow @OnTheRedCarpet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for all your Oscar news and information.
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