WASHINGTON: Actor Will Smith said Thursday he will not attend next month’s Oscars ceremony, joining his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee to protest the absence of minorities among the nominees.
For a second year in a row, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated only white actors for the 20 slots, causing an outcry.
Smith, a mega-star whose role in NFL drama “Concussion” was overlooked this year, said he was out of the country when his wife announced on social media that she would not attend the February 28 awards ceremony in Hollywood.
“She’s deeply passionate and when she is moved she has to go,” Smith said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” show. “I heard her words and I was knocked over. I was happy to be married to that woman.”
“There is a position that we hold in this community, and if we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem,” said Smith, a two-time Oscar nominee for his roles in “Ali” and “The Pursuit of Happyness.”
“It was her call to action, for herself, and for me and for our family to be a part of the solution.”
Smith said America’s diversity was one of its strength, and should be reflected in film.
“Everyone is beautiful and deserving and is fantastic, but it feels like it’s going the wrong direction,” he said of this year’s nominations list.
“The nominations reflect the Academy. The Academy reflects the industry and then the industry reflects America,” he said.
“There is a regressive slide towards separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony and that’s not the Hollywood that I want to leave behind.”
Lee has said he and his wife will be skipping the ceremony too, though he has said he is not calling for a wider boycott.
Lee, who won an Oscar last year honoring his lifetime achievements as a moviemaker, wrote an open letter to the academy Monday decrying the “lilly white” acting nominations.
Lee says the bias lies with the studio executives who decide which movies get made.
Oscar-winning actor George Clooney, warning the movie industry is moving backwards, said this week the problem was the lack of options available to minorities in quality films.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is black, said she was “both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion.”
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