Hollywood Film Director, Producer, Writer and Actor, Shelton Jackson aka “Spike Lee” and Hollywood actress Jada Pinkett Smith, said they would boycott next month’s Oscar Academy Awards ceremony because black actors were shut out of nominations. 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, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“How is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the Actor Category are white? And let’s not even get into the other branches,” Lee wrote under the #OscarsSoWhite hash tag.
“40 white actors in two years and no `flava’ (black person) at all. We can’t act?!”
Lee said that his decision to stay away from the ceremony was meant as no disrespect to Oscar emcee Chris Rock and producer Reginald Hudlin, both of whom are black, or to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) officials.
Jada Pinkett Smith, who appeared in two “Matrix” movies, also said she would skip the Feb. 28 ceremony. And she said in a Facebook video post quote that we are undignified people and we are powerful, lets not forget that.
“Maybe it’s time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, and we make programmes for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit that are just as good as the so-called mainstream,” she said in a video on Facebook.
Her husband, Will Smith who starred in the football injury drama “Concussion,” and Idris Elba, who portrayed an African warlord in “Beasts of No Nation,” were among black actors overlooked this year.
The black cast and director of hip hop biopic “Straight Outta Compton” were also left out. The boycott statements came after comedy “Ride Along 2,” starring black actors Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, pushed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” from its position atop the weekend box office.
However, the Oscar Academy president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs made an official statement saying:
“I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees,” she said. “While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.
“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,” Boone Isaacs said in what amounted to a rare and unusual move on the part of the Academy.
“As many of you know,” she continued, “we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly.”
“This isn’t unprecedented for the Academy,” added Boone Isaacs. “In the ‘60s and ‘70s, it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our effort to move forward together.”
She said that while the Academy, which awards the Oscars, had made changes in recent years to drive diversity, “the change is not coming as fast they want it, hence the need to do more. This has got people wondering if the exclusion of black people is the only way to achieve the more that the Academy is talking of.