If you ask any Oscar winner what it was like to accept their award on Hollywood's biggest stage, a few obvious words like amazing, surprising or humbling may come to mind.
But for the few and proud black actors who have won Oscars, the award may just mean even more to them.
In the new issue of Variety, the publication interviewed seven of the 13 living African American actors who have walked away with a prestigious award from the Academy. Their thoughts on inequality, race and the overall show may surprise you.
Back in 2013, Lupita Nyong'o received the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave. While she is "filled with gratitude" for the roles she's been able to play thus far, she has to be honest and say she wishes there were more opportunities.
"I don't necessarily think there are roles written for me," she shared with the publication. "At the end of the day, judging from what I've seen, the fact is there are more stories being told with Caucasian protagonists. That's a fact; it's not a feeling."
For Mo'nique, winning an Oscar doesn't mean much in her eyes. Instead, it's Hollywood as a whole that needs to make a change for diverse actors.
"Let's have a real and open conversation. That's when change will happen in Hollywood. To ask me about a trophy is really irrelevant. It's just a trophy," she argued. "But why is there such a pay gap? If there's a black film coming out and it's an all-black cast, why is it that it's a low-budget film? The offers I oftentimes receive are less than what I got 11 years ago, and that was before I won the Oscar."
While Morgan Freeman agrees that the Oscars play a role in the discussion, the Million Dollar Baby star believes the problem doesn't start with the show. Instead, there is a lack of diverse voices in film.
"If we're going to talk about diversity in the film industry, we don't need to start with the Academy Awards," Morgan explained. "We need to start somewhere way back—with the producers, the directors, the casting agents, the writers."
As another round of awards are handed out Sunday evening at the Dolby Theatre, some stars like Lupita remain confident that change is coming sooner rather than later.
"What we're talking about is changing fact. I have no doubt it can change," she shared with the publication. "I'm optimistic it can change. It's one project at a time—that's how it changes."