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AU Professor donates two Oscars to NMAAHC

AU's Russell Williams with his Oscars and Emmys.

Film and Media Arts professor Russell Williams was the first African-American to win multiple Oscars (for sound recording) and was featured in a recent WTOP profile for donating both of his statuettes to the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture. Below is an excerpt from his interview, check out the full article on

"'I may not be the first African-American who deserves to be the first multiple winner, but I’ll take that distinction,' Williams humbly told WTOP. 'I think partly because I worked behind camera. … If you’re an actor, it doesn’t matter ethnicity, people really do make a face-value judgment: You’re too tall, too old, that’s not the look. … But [with me] if you turn that button on and you heard Denzel, James Earl Jones or Kevin Costner and they didn’t sound like Mickey Mouse, I guess this person did their job.'

For Williams, parting with his prized Oscar possessions wasn’t that hard a decision.

'In terms of why I want to donate, I’m a D.C. native,' Williams said. 'As a longtime admirer of the Smithsonian … rather than wait until maybe family members want one, let me just put these in the Smithsonian for safe keeping, and I know they’ll always be part of our national collection.'"