Da’Vine Joy acknowledged her mother and women who have stood by her side during her Oscar acceptance speech during the 96th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. (Credit: Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s Speech posted on the official Oscars YouTube Channel)

Da’Vine Joy Randolph just won an Oscar for best supporting actress — and Black women across the country are cheering.

Randolph was honored with the best supporting actress title during the 96th Academy Awards Sunday night for her role in “The Holdovers.” In the film, Randolph plays Mary Lamb, a head cook who is stuck with a teacher and troubled student during the holidays.

The award is Randolph’s first Oscar nomination and win. During her speech, Randolph thanked her mother for encouraging her to pursue acting along and other mentors who “ushered me and guided me.”

“For so long I’ve always wanted to be different,” Randolph said. “And now I realize I just need to be myself — and I thank you. I thank you for seeing me.”

Randolph also acknowledged the women who stood by her side, along with her college acting professor, Ron van Lieu, who told her she was enough when Randolph was the only Black woman in her acting class.

“When I told you ‘I don’t see myself’ you said ‘that’s fine, we’re going to forge our own path,’” Randolph added. “‘You’re going to lay a trail for yourself.’”

While Randolph’s win is a testament to the talents of Black women in cinema, there is more work needed to increase representation in these categories, data shows. 

Out of its 96-year history, only ten Black women have won an Oscar for best supporting actress — including Whoopi Goldberg for her role in the 1990 film “Ghost” and Octavia Spencer for role in the 2011 film “The Help.” The numbers are even smaller for best actress, with Halle Berry being the only Black woman to win an Oscar in this category for her role in the 2001 film “Monster’s Ball.”

The 2023 Hollywood Diversity Report found that people of color made up 21.6% of leads in top theatrical films in 2022 compared to white leads, who made up 78.4%. The report also found that women’s share of top theatrical leads have taken a step back despite achieving big gains in 2022. 

Aside from lack of representation, equal opportunities and pay for women is another huge problem in Hollywood, seen with the 148-day Hollywood writer’s strike, a recent PBS News segment highlighted. Data by the career site Zippia finds that 32.5% of actors are women, compared to 67.5% for men in 2021. Female actors made 95 cents for every dollar that male actors made, and Black actors have the lowest average salary at $49,210, the report also found. 

Several Black actors, including Mo’Nique, Gabrielle Union and Viola Davis have been vocal about pay discrimination. Not long ago, actress Taraji P. Henson – who has won a Golden Globe and been nominated for an Academy Award and several Emmys –  also made headlines for her remarks about the pay inequities she’s experienced, which brought her to tears.

“It seems every time I do something and I break another glass ceiling, when it’s time to renegotiate I’m at the bottom again like I never did what I just did — and I’m just tired,” Henson previously said in an interview with Gayle King on SiriusXM. 

Pay inequities for women is a problem that “is pervasive in Hollywood as it is in every other industry in this society,” according to Rebecca Sun, senior editor for Diversity and Inclusion at The Hollywood Reporter. The only difference, she said, is that the entertainment industry is more visible.

Henson is “talking about her salary, compared to men who have had a commensurate level of experience and a commensurate level of accomplishment in the industry,” Sun told PBS. “When you look at that, the numbers do not lie. Women in Hollywood, including famous women in Hollywood, are still underpaid compared to men and that is exacerbated even further when you’re talking about women of color.”

So, what’s the solution? Pay women what they deserve and create pathways for more female actors and writers, especially those who are people of color. 

Like Henson told King on SiriusXM: “Enough is enough.”