Will Smith Boycotts Oscars with Jada Pinkett Smith & Spike Lee
Shortly after the Oscar nominations were announced one week ago today, several fans, actors and filmmakers alike voiced their displeasure about the lack of diversity among the nominations. Last weekend, filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith announced that they plan on boycotting the awards ceremony, which will air on ABC Sunday, February 28, hosted by Chris Rock. It wasn't clear at the time if Jada Pinkett Smith's husband Will Smith will be joining her in boycotting the awards ceremony, but the actor revealed on Good Morning America that he will be not be attending or watching the awards show.
"No. My wife's not going. It would be awkward to show up with Charlize (Theron). We've discussed it. We're part of this community. But at this current time, we're uncomfortable to stand there and say, 'This is OK.'"
Will Smith has been nominated for an Oscar twice for his work in Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness, but both times, he lost out to another African-American actor. Denzel Washington beat him in 2002 for his performance in Training Day, and Forest Whitaker took the Oscar in 2007 for The Last King of Scotland. The actor added that he feels like the Academy is now moving in the wrong direction.
"To me, that was huge. So when I see this list and series of nominations that come out - and everybody is fantastic. That's the complexity of this issue. ... But it feels like it's going in the wrong direction. There's a position that we hold in this community and if we're not a part of the solution, we're part of the problem. And it was her call to action for herself and for me and for our family to be a part of the solution. [For] my part, I think I have to protect and fight for the ideals that make our country and our Hollywood community great. And so when I look at the series of nominations of the Academy, it's not reflecting that beauty."
The actor also took issue with some who claimed that his wife's boycott was due to him not receiving a nomination for his performance in Concussion. He added that his snub wasn't the only reason that she sent out her video announcing the boycott, but "there's probably a part of that in there." He went on to say that if he was the only person of color nominated, she would have done the same thing.
"For Jada, had I been nominated, and no other people of color were, she would have sent out the video anyway and we'd still be here having this conversation. This is so deeply not about me. This is about children that are going to sit down and watch this show and they're not going to see themselves represented. There's a regressive slide toward separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony. And that's not the Hollywood that I want to leave behind."
In related news, actor Tyrese Gibson and rapper/actor 50 Cent recently took to Instagram, asking Oscar host Chris Rock to step down. 50 Cent offered a succinct plea to the comedian, stating, "Chris please do not do the oscars awards. You mean a lot man, don't do it. Please," while Tyrese Gibson urged the host to "do the right thing," adding that "there is no joke you can crack that can change the way we feel." Here's what the actor had to say on a Facebook post yesterday.
"If Andy Cohen of #WWHL was hosting the Oscars and they purposely left out all gays and or homosexuals from being nominated for an #Oscar HE would of stepped down already..... This is a #fact click on the link in my IG BIO now we're talking more about this!!!! For the record...... I HATE that this is all happening on the year that LLeonardo DiCaprio is gonna win his first Oscar for BEST ACTOR...... Leo looooooveeessssss black people!!!!!! Leo in my homie!!!!!"
Even one of the Oscar nominees is contemplating boycotting as well. Mark Ruffalo, who is up for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Spotlight, told BBC News that he is considering boycotting the awards over the diversity issue. Here's what Mark Ruffalo had to say below about his potential boycott.
"I'm weighing it, that's where I'm at right now. I woke up in the morning thinking, 'what is the right way to do this?' Because if you look at Martin Luther King's legacy, what he was saying was that the good people who don't act are much worse than the wrongdoers who are purposefully not acting and don't know the right way. It's the entire American system. It's rife with the kind of white privilege racism that goes into our justice system."
With Oscar Sunday just over one month away, we'll have to wait and see who else will join this burgeoning movement. Among the many snubs this year are Creed director Ryan Coogler, Beasts of No Nation star Edris Elba and Concussion star Will Smith, while many thought Straight Outta Compton should have been nominated for Best Picture as well. What do you think about the boycott? Chime in with your thoughts, and take a look at Will Smith's interview on Good Morning America below.