Since the Academy Awards last week announced another all-white list of nominees in the acting categories — for the second year in a row — a backlash has been building in Hollywood, with some big names announcing that they will boycott the ceremony.
Reuters reports that director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith announced separately that they will skip the ceremony, citing a lack of black actors among the nominees. The Motion Picture Academy, meanwhile, acknowledged that it must take steps to improve diversity.
The announcement of the nominees prompted the revival of the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, which surfaced in 2015.
“Lee, the director of ‘Do the Right Thing’ and 2015’s ‘Chi-Raq,’ said he had timed his announcement with the national holiday commemorating slain civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Reuters notes.
Referencing the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, Lee wrote on Instagram, in part: “How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let’s Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can’t Act?! WTF!!”
Pinkett Smith, whose husband, Will Smith, received Oscar buzz for his performance in “Concussion” but was not nominated, posted a video Monday on Facebook announcing her boycott.
CNN quotes Pinkett Smith saying in the video: “Today is Martin Luther King’s birthday, and I can’t help but ask the question: Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence, that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere?”
The actress adds: “Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people, and we are powerful. So let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let’s do us, differently.”
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African American, released a statement to media outlets saying she was “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion” among this year’s nominees, and calling for “big changes.”
Isaacs adds in her statement: “The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”
Not everyone in Hollywood is on board with the boycott. People magazine notes that actress Janet Hubert, who originated the role of Aunt Viv on Will Smith’s TV series “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” posted a video Monday sharply criticizing Pinkett Smith for her stance. Here’s the video …