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Colman Domingo On ‘Rustin’ Oscar Nom, Pulling Bayard Rustin “Out Of The Shadows Of History” & What It Means For LGBTQ+ Representation

Colman Domingo received his first Oscar nomination on Tuesday morning for Rustin, in the Best Actor for a Leading Role category. Anyone would be thrilled with a nomination, but Domingo says being recognized for this film in particular is special. “It’s very important for me, especially after a film like Rustin, that [Bayard Rustin] is pulled out of the shadows of history, and he’s taken his rightful place in the center of his own story.”

Rustin tells the story of Bayard Rustin, a key figure of the civil rights movement and architect of the 1963 March on Washington, whose story was marginalized in history because he was openly gay. “It took people like Barack and Michelle Obama, and their production company, to say that this story is necessary and vital and potent,” he says.

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Domingo says director George C. Wolfe, who he previously collaborated with on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, trusted him to embody the “spirit” of Rustin and “share the soul of a person who’s been so marginalized in history books… I knew that it was one of those rare roles that an actor receives where they can actually bring everything that they had to it – their heart, their humanity, their questions, their spirit… So, I gave everything I had.”

Domingo knows that this nomination is not only great for LGBTQ+ representation in stories, but also goes to show that being open about who you are is never a limitation. “I know I’m existing in spaces that are unique in many ways,” he says. “At the same time I was representing Rustin, I’m also playing the leading man in The Color Purple, who has a very different experience. The way I’ve been able to see myself in this industry is that I can play anything, and it’s not limited by my own personal sexuality. People see me as I see myself, and being able to flex all these muscles and play all these different types of men, with very different experiences, hopefully moves the needle a bit more… I’m a strong representation for that now, and there’s many more folks coming up right behind me.”

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