Honorary Academy Award winner Spike Lee will boycott this year’s Oscars in protest at another year where actors and actresses of colour received zero nominations.
After #OscarsSoWhite once again trended on Twitter after the announcement of the nominations, the famous film director posted a lengthy message on Instagram, which asked: “How is it possible for the second 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 two years and no flava’ at all. We can’t act? WTF?”
In the message, Lee said his phone has been ringing “off the hook” for too many years with reporters asking for comments about the lack of diversity at the Oscars.
Lee thanked Cheryl Boone Isaacs and the Academy for his honorary Oscar in November, 2015, and stressed he means “no disrespect” to Isaacs, Oscars host Chris Rock, producer Reginald Hudlin, or the Academy, itself.
Instead, he pointed the blame at the executive offices of Hollywood studios, T.V. and cable networks, the “gate-keepers,” who make casting decisions.
“The truth is we ain’t in those rooms, and, until minorities are, the Oscar nominees will remain lily-white,” he added.
Lee said it was no coincidence he posted the message on the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s birthday, and referred to a famous quotation from the Civil Rights leader: “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 is right.”
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith cited Martin Luther King when she posted a video to her Facebook page saying she won’t be at the Academy Awards or watching on T.V.
“Begging for acknowledgment, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power,” she said, while giving her best wishes to the host, Chris Rock.
She had earlier posed a question on the same page, asking: “People of colour are always welcomed to give out awards, even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments.
“Should people of colour refrain from participating all together?”
It’s unclear if her husband, Will Smith, will be boycotting the awards show.
Many critics expected Smith to receive a nomination for his performance in Concussion, a movie about the doctor who fought the NFL over brain damage suffered by former players.