Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has promised change is on the way following the widespread social media outrage under the hashag #OscarsSoWhite regarding the lack of diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees. As a result of non-white actors being excluded from acting and directing categories, Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee have announced their plans to boycott this year’s awards ceremony.
In an official statement, Boone Isaacs wrote, “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.” The Academy president added, “As many of you know, 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.”
Pinkett Smith released a video statement saying in part, “The Academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose to invite whomever they choose and now I think it is our responsibility, now, to make the change. Maybe it is time that we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, into our programs.”
Spike Lee echoed Pinkett Smith’s concerns and also vowed to not attend this year’s Oscar awards ceremony saying, “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!!
Lee continued, “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.” Adding, “People, The Truth Is We Ain’t In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White.”
Gil Robertson, president of the African-American Film Critics Association, expressed her disapproval over Pinkett Smith and Lee’s call to boycott the Oscars saying, “I think it would be a mistake to boycott anything. The black community needs to understand that receiving an Oscar nomination is a big deal for anyone, regardless of race. Under Cheryl Boone Isaac’s leadership, the Academy is moving closer to getting in step with the real world. Change takes time.”
‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’ was nominated for Best Documentary Feature and ‘Straight Outta Compton’ is up for Best Original Screenplay, but no actors or directors of color were chosen among this year’s nominees. Minority actors who were arguably snubbed by the Oscars include Idris Elba for ‘Beasts of No Nation,’ Samuel L. Jackson for ‘The Hateful Eight,’ and Michael B. Jordan for his leading role in ‘Creed,’ the film which earned Sylvester Stallone a Best Supporting Actor nod for his reprisal of Rocky Balboa. For the complete list of this year’s Oscar nominees, click TMN.