The Academy Awards is promising a change, all while the damage continues to snowball over its lack of diversity in the recently announced Oscar nominations.
Last week, the nominations were announced for the 88th annual award ceremony, sparking the #OscarsSoWhite trending topic on social media after it was revealed that most of its 20 acting nominees were white.
This lack of diversity sparked outrage among Hollywood celebrities like Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith, who both announced over the weekend that they will not be taking part in the Feb. 28th ceremony. Lee made the news on Monday (January 18) via Instagram, writing:
#OscarsSoWhite... Again. 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!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. 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. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)
Jada Pinkett Smith, meanwhile, injected similar sentiments in a Facebook video, which finds the actress announcing that she will not attend the show nor will she be watching at home.
"Begging for acknowledgement or even asking [to be nominated] diminishes dignity," Smith said in the video. "It diminishes power and we are a dignified people and we are powerful. And let's not forget it. So let's let the Academy do them with all grace and love and let's do us differently."
Actor David Oyelowo, who famous played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in "Selma," also voiced displeasure on the matter during a gala honoring Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. "A year ago, I did a film called "Selma," and after the Academy Awards, Cheryl invited me to her office to talk about what went wrong then," Oyelowo said. "We had a deep and meaningful [conversation]. 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."
This is the second year in a row that critics have blasted the award show over its lack in diversity for its award nominations.
In the wake of these remarks, the Academy president later issued a statement on the outrage. "I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees," wrote Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African-American.
"While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes."
"The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership," Boone Isaacs continued in the written statement. "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 88th annual Oscars is set to air live on February 28.