Oscar Race Proves to Be a White One

02/13/2003 at 11:49 AM EST

Last year's Oscar ceremony proved a watershed for actors of color, as "Monster's Ball" Best Actress winner Halle Berry underscored in her emotional acceptance speech.

But don't expect such a moment this year. Even Denzel Washington, who was named Best Actor last year for "Training Day," was shut out in the nominations for his directorial debut "Antwone Fisher," which some critics deemed to be Oscar-worthy.

Other successful 2002 films with African American stars included "Barbershop," "Drumline" and "Brown Sugar."

But after 2001's banner year at the Oscars, 2002 spawned only one black nominee: Queen Latifah, 32, for her supporting role in "Chicago" as prison matron "Mama" Morton.

"You know, it's always going to be a fight," said Latifah (real name: Dana Owens, from East Orange, N.J.), speaking to the Associated Press. "I feel honored to represent for my folks. ... I'm glad (the voters) opened their eyes just a little bit."

And despite poor showing, Latifah, who once worked at a Burger King, says she hopes that Hollywood as a whole becomes more accessible to people of color.

"The more diversity in the body who does the voting the more you'll see other -- not just African-Americans -- but Asians and American Indians and Hispanic people, Middle Eastern or whatever it may be," she said.

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