BlackFacts Details

African-American Firsts in Film and Theatre

In 1916, Noble and George Johnson established The Lincoln Motion Picture Company.  Founded in Omaha, Nebraska, the Johnson Brothers made Lincoln Motion Picture Company the first African-American film production company. The companys debut film was entitled The Realization of the Negros Ambition. 

By 1917, Lincoln Motion Picture Company had offices in California.  Although the company was only in operation for five years, the movies produced by Lincoln Motion Picture Company would work to portray African-Americans in a positive light by producing films that were family-oriented.

 In 1940, actress and performer Hattie McDaniel won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Mammy in the film, Gone with the Wind (1939). McDaniel made history that evening as she became the first African-American to win an Academy Award.

McDaniel work as a singer, songwriter, comedian, and actress was well-known as she was the first African-American woman to sing on the radio in the United States and she appeared in more than 300 films.

McDaniel was born on June 10, 1895, in Kansas to former slaves. She died on October 26, 1952, in California.

In 1950, actress Juanita Hall won a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing Bloody Mary in the stage version of South Pacific. This success made Hall the first African-American to win a Tony Award.

Juanita Hall’s work as a musical theatre and film actress is well regarded. She is best known for her portrayal of Bloody Mary and Auntie Liang in the stage and screen versions of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals South Pacific and Flower Drum Song.

Hall was born on November 6, 1901, in New Jersey. She did on February 28, 1968, in New York.

 In 1964, Sidney Poitier became the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. Poitier’s role in Lilies of the Field won him the award.

Poitier launched his acting career as a member of the . In addition to appearing in more than 50 films, Poitier has directed films, published books and has served as a