An Oscar first for Wes Studi

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors voted Saturday, three months earlier than usual, to select their choices for the 11th annual Governors Awards. The Academy moved up the date for the Governors Awards from November 16 to Sunday, October 27. The nearly three-week jump backward reflects a similar shift for the February 9, 2020 Oscars.

It’s taken a 46 years for a Native American actor to finally be honoured with an Oscar and Studi will be given the honorary award for career achievement.

As a Cherokee-American actor who has appeared in more than 30 films, Studi is known for portraying strong indigenous characters with poignancy and authenticity. Born and raised in Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, Studi engaged with indigenous politics and activism after a tour of military service in Vietnam. He launched his acting career with the American Indian Theatre Company; his first film role in the independent feature “Powwow Highway” in 1989 led to a role in “Dances with Wolves” in 1990. He has since co-starred in films such as “The Last of the Mohicans” in 1992, “Geronimo: An American Legend” in 1993, “Heat” in 1995, “The New World” in 2005, “Avatar” in 2009 and “Hostiles” in 2017.

Musician Buffy Sainte-Marie shared a best original song Oscar in 1982, but Studi’s acting honour will be seen by many as a further step in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ continuing attempts to embrace diversity.

Hollywood’s complicated relationship with Native Americans goes back to the earliest movies set in the Wild West.

Thus, this year’s selection reflects the Academy’s current emphasis on diversity, as Oscar-nominated Italian director Lina Wertmüller of “Seven Beauties” and Studi will also join long-overdue director David Lynch to accept Honorary Oscars.

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