Will Smith Joins The Oscars Boycott With His Wife
The Concussion actor spoke with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America on Thursday and said he will not be attending the Oscars on Feb. 28. "My wife's not going," Smith said. "We've discussed it and we're a part of this community, but at this current time, we're uncomfortable to stand there and say this is okay."
For the second year in a row, there are no black (or any non-white) actors nominated in the Oscars.
He added, "Diversity is the American superpower." Smith, who was snubbed from the Oscars nominees this year for his lead role in Concussion, recalled that how of the two times he's been nominated in the past for the awards show, he lost both times to other black actors, like Denzel Washington for Training Day and Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland. But now, things are different:
When I see this list and series of nominations that come out—and everyone is fantastic—and that's the complexity of this issue.
But it feels like it's going the wrong direction. When I look at the nominations reflect the academy, the academy reflects the industry and the industry reflects America, a series of challenges that we are having in our country at the moment. There's a regressive slide towards separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony. And that's not the Hollywood i want to leave behind.
Smith admits that part of the reason his wife, who recently released a video critical of the Oscars and its diversity problem, is boycotting the Oscars had to do with his snub. However, he said if he had been the only person of color nominated in the awards show, Jada would have still made the video. "We'd still be here having the conversation anyway. This is so deeply not about me. This is about children who are going to sit down and watch the show and not see themselves represented."
Smith isn't alone in being critical of the awards show. Spike Lee, Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo and George Clooney have also slammed the Oscars. "For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable," Oyelowo said at the King Legacy Awards on Monday.
In an interview with Variety, Clooney said:
Let's look back at some of the nominees. I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees—like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman. And all of a sudden, you feel like we're moving in the wrong direction. There were nominations left off the table. There were four films this year: Creed could have gotten nominations; Concussion could have gotten Will Smith a nomination; Idris Elba could have been nominated for Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton could have been nominated. And certainly last year, with Selma director Ava DuVernay—I think that it's just ridiculous not to nominate her.
But honestly, there should be more opportunity than that. There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars. By the way, we're talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it's even worse. We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.
Even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said she was "disappointed." A hashtag #OscarSoWhite has been trending on Twitter as well.
The New York Times reported that in the wake of the Oscars backlash, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is expected to make an announcement possibly as early as next week about plans they have to expand diversity in the nominations. Isaacs also said in a statement that the academy would be taking "dramatic steps" in changing how members are selected.