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Dublin: 2 °C Saturday 18 January, 2020

Black stars are boycotting the Oscars

“Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all,” said Spike Lee.

Jada Pinkett-Smith
Jada Pinkett-Smith
Image: AP Photo

AMID CALLS FOR a boycott of the Academy Awards over its all-white acting nominees and Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith both announcing they would sit out this year’s ceremony, the academy’s president said it was time for major changes — and soon.

Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued a statement promising more diversity, and quickly, after both Lee and Pinkett spoke out.

In a lengthy Instagram post yesterday, Lee said he “cannot support” the “lily white” Oscars. Noting that he was writing on Martin Luther King Junior Day, Lee said he was fed up:

“Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all,” he wrote.

“We can’t act?!”

In a video message on Facebook, Pinkett Smith also said she wouldn’t attend or watch the Oscars in February. Pinkett Smith, whose husband Will Smith wasn’t nominated for his performance in the NFL head trauma drama Concussion, said it was time for people of color to disregard the Academy Awards.

Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people and we are powerful.

She added: “Let’s let the academy do them, with all grace and love. And let’s do us differently.”

PastedImage-54826 Spike Lee Source: AP Photo

Last year’s all-white acting nominees also drew calls for a boycott, though not from such prominent individuals as Lee and Pinkett Smith. Whether it had any impact or not, the audience for the broadcast, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, was down 16 percent from the year prior, a six-year low.

Isaacs has made a point of presenting a more inclusive show this year. The 28 February broadcast will be hosted by Chris Rock and produced by Django Unchained producer Reginald Hudlin and David Hill. On Saturday, Rock, unveiling a new promotion for the broadcast, called the ceremony

“The White BET Awards.”

Many had expected nominations for Idris Elba of Beasts of No Nation and Benicio Del Toro for Sicario. The NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton also failed to earn a best picture nomination, despite some predictions it would. Ryan Coogler’s acclaimed Rocky sequel Creed scored only a nomination only for Sylvester Stallone.

Spike Lee’s own movie, the Chicago gang violence hip-hop musical Chi-Raq — celebrated by some and scorned by others — also went unnoticed.

In his post, Lee made it clear the Academy Awards is only part of the problem in an industry with deep-rooted diversity issues.

“The Academy Awards is not where the ‘real’ battle is,” wrote Lee.

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.”

Read: This Irish film about a Cuban drag artist is wowing people across the world

Read: Same snub, different year: #OscarsSoWhite is trending again as black actors are left out

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Associated Press

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