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On Sunday February 5, trailblazer film actress Viola Davis won her first Grammy award after three unsuccessful nominations. With this accomplishment, the 57-year-old celebrity has become only one of the four African-American entertainers in the coveted EGOT club.
For those uninitiated, ‘EGOT’ (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, & Tony) refers to the four most prominent American awards given to artists with extraordinary performances in various fields of popular entertainment. Only eighteen people in the history of American entertainment have won all four awards, and only one (Robert Lopez) has won all of them twice.
Here are the four Black celebrities who have won the EGOT prizes:-
1) Whoopi Goldberg
Born Caryn Elaine Johnson in 1955, Goldberg entered the entertainment arena at an early age and soon made her name in stand-up comedy and stage performance. A household name since the ‘80s, Goldberg has appeared as an actress, comedian, talk show host, and even political debate moderator for decades and stays as active as ever at 67.
Goldberg won her first Grammy in 1985, and became a full member of the EGOT club in 2002 with her Tony award for Thoroughly Modern Millie. Goldberg was the first Black person to receive all four awards, and the 10th overall. The feat would not be repeated by another Black actor for another sixteen years!
2) John Legend
Born John Roger Stephens in 1978, Legend belonged to a family of Black church musicians. After his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania, the young musician and pianist became associated with the up-and-coming rapper Kanye West and gathered an impressive array of academy awards starting the mid-2000s.
In 2018, Legend received his first Emmy Award, becoming the second youngest person to earn the title at the age of only 39. Legend remains the only Black man to hold the title.
3) Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Kate Hudson was born in Chicago in 1981, and has made her name in music and acting. She studied music at Kennedy-King College, and became known nationwide for her American Idol appearance in 2004. Hudson’s mother, brother, and nephew were murdered in 2008, but her career success continued undeterred.
Last year, Hudson won her first Tony Award for the musical A Strange Loop. With this, Hudson also became the second Black woman to get all four EGOT awards, at the age of 40.
4) Viola Davis
Viola Davis was born in abject poverty in South Carolina. Her talent for acting was apparent from a young age, and was later refined with a graduate in theatre arts from the Rhode Island College in 1988. Davis made her Broadway debut in 1996, and immediately won a Tony nomination the same year. She has since appeared in dozens of stage dramas, television series, and Hollywood films.
In 2023, Davis won a Grammy for the audio version of her memoir: Finding Me. She is currently the latest entry into the EGOT club, and the third Black woman who has won all four awards.