Over the weekend Viola Davis's camp confirmed they were officially aiming for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Fences. This disappoints us since she won the Lead Tony on Broadway for the role and now it seems like we're going to remain ages and ages away from another WOC winning Best Actress. It's been a long time since Halle Berry. Viola will of course become the most nominated black actress at the Oscars ever if she's nominated for Fences (which will be her 3rd nomination) making her the immediate frontrunner.
But let's discuss a less cited but even more impressive (though frustrating) record Viola may break. If Viola is nominated for Fences she becomes not just the most nominated black actress but the most nominated black woman of all time in any category. Viola is currently tied with five other women with two nominations each: most famously Oprah Winfrey (Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress... she also has the non-competitive Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award), Whoopi Goldberg (both for acting), and Ruth E Carter (both times for costume design) who rose up in the 1980s and 1990s. Since the turn of the century three more black women have joined them: Viola, plus Sharen Davis (both times for Costume Design) and Siedah Garrett (both times for Original Song). The only way Viola doesn't keep this record for her own is if Sharen Davis joins her in a tie for most nominated in January. Sharen designed the costumes for Fences and could also be in the mix this year for a third time. Of those six women, only Whoopi has won a competitive Oscar.
Updated: Removed commentary about a possible posthumous nomination for Wilson to do more research on the topic.