Berry, Denzel Make Oscars History Denzel Washington is only the second African American male to win an Best Actor Oscar since Sidney Poitier's win for Lilies of the Field in 1963. Halle Berry is the first African American female to win Best Actress ever. Berry's speech was quite good (albeit long) but it leaves me wondering how all those "women who stand behind her[sic], Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox and it's for every nameless faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened" feel about being named inferior. And why didn't the camera flash onto Jada Pinkett-Smith when Berry said that? Now, that would have been a true Oscar moment.