Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

It's About Freaking Time! Ruby Dee Noms and Wins

I was shocked to learn that Ruby Dee's SAG and Oscar nominations this year are both firsts for her! It's really surprising to me that a phenomenal acting talent like Ruby Dee, in her 60+ years as a working actress, has NEVER been nominated for a SAG or Academy Award - until this year. Un-freaking-believable! And I'm talking strictly about nominations here, not necessarily wins.

I haven't see American Gangster (the film for which her performance is nominated in both categories), but I'm now inclined to do so, thanks in large part to her nominations. But I can't help but wonder if these nominations are more about the fact that both organizations (SAG and Academy) have ignored her performances for decades, and these nominations are likely more akin to lifetime achievement awards, than they are for her performance in American Gangster. The politics of show-business humor me. Regardless, a thunderous applause for both nominations for Ruby Dee!

Her late husband, the great Ossie Davis, was never nominated for an Oscar, but he was given a lifetime achievement award by SAG, in 2001.

By the way, Ruby Dee did win the SAG for best supporting actress, for her performance in American Gangster. I didn't watch the ceremony on television, but I heard that her acceptance speech and presence were immaculate. So I've been mining the web for a video clip of the moment. The only one I found follows below, on YouTube; but the video and sound quality aren't very good, as you will see...

Ruby Dee will be 84 years old this year, by the way!!


  1. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...

    I did see American Gangster and her role was quite small, the main dramatic moment for her being when she scolds and (if I recall correctly) slaps her son.

    A great performance, but not her most commanding one, surely...?

    So, with such a long and illustrious career, why an award for THIS role...?

    Call me a cynic, but, in the grand scheme of things (if, indeed, there is a scheme), a black woman getting an award for being the mother of a gangster is maybe not so surprising...

  2. Anonymous said...

    All I can say is "Woohoo!" I'm sooo over the moon thrilled for Ruby Dee that their motivation for giving her the award at this time doesn't even come into play for me. I absolutely LOVE her! Who knows if there would have been another opportunity to honor this queen of a woman before she dies. Well done!!

  3. Lola Gets said...

    I concur with UK, her role in "American..." was very small, but perhaps SAG is trying to make up for the past??

    Whatever the reason, I think Dee is one class act all the way around.


  4. ANF said...

    Sag is making up for her past work. She is a wonderful Actress. I am very happy for her.

  5. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...

    OK, I'm probably alone on this issue... But in a couple of hundred years from now when we're all gone, when most people wouldn't have heard of Ruby Dee and would have to look up her major achievements on some ubertech format...

    What d'you think will come out at the top of that search? Guess.

    It won't be for any of her roles in Raisin in the Sun, or Do The Right Thing, or Roots Next Generation, or Their Eyes Were Watching God...

    American Gangster!!

    The SAG award is not labelled 'for her long and illustrious career' it was for supporting actress in the movie American Ganster.

    Ditto her nomination and possible win for the Oscar.

    I could be wrong, but I think it matters what a person is specifically awarded for. It's always nice to win some time, but wins like this just skewers history for future generations.

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