As the backlash following the ‘white-washed’ Oscars nominations last Thursday, Academy of Motion Pictures president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has promised ‘big changes’ for the awards.
The press statement came after both director Spike Lee and actress Jade Pinkett Smith used social media to announce their decision to boycott this year’s ceremony. The Academy’s president Isaacs said she was “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion.”
Noting that he was writing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lee posted a statement on Instagram and said he cannot support the ‘lily-White’ Oscars. Lee, who was given an honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards in November, said, “Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all. We can’t act?!”
#OscarsSoWhite… Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, 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!! It’s No Coincidence I’m Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday. Dr. King Said “There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It’s Right”. For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The “Real” Battle Is. It’s In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To “Turnaround” Or Scrap Heap. This Is What’s Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With “The Green Light” Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, “I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS”. People, The Truth Is We Ain’t In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont’d)
A photo posted by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on
In a video message on Facebook which has amassed over 4,5m views, Pinkett Smith said, “Begging for acknowledgment or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power.”
The actress, whose husband Will Smith was not nominated for his performance in Concussion, added, “Let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let’s do is differently.”
Another actor left out of the Oscars race was Idris Elba who was no nominated for his performance in Beasts of No Nation while the acclaimed NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton failed to earn a best picture nominee.
In a statement last night, Boone Isaacs said, “This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. 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.”