As many predicted, actor Will Smith will not attend the Academy Awards ceremony this year.
His wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, went public with her choice to boycott the Oscars in a YouTube video last week.
After the 2016 Oscar nominations were announced last Thursday, there was an almost immediate backlash against the perceived lack of diversity in key categories (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress): 20 out of 20 nominees, a full 100 per cent, are white.
The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, which was used after last year’s Oscar nominations were revealed, resurfaced again this year across social media.
Speaking to his decision to skip the ceremony, Smith echoed his wife’s opinions saying the Oscars do not reflect the diversity of America.
“For me, at its best, Hollywood represents and then creates the imagery for that beauty,” he told Good Morning America. “When I look at the series of nominations of the Academy, it’s not reflecting that beauty.”
“The industry reflects America. It reflects a series of challenges that we are having in our country at the moment,” he continued. “There is a regressive slide toward separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony, and that’s not the Hollywood that I want to leave behind.”
Smith and his wife discussed the issue (Smith was out of town when Pinkett Smith created and posted the video), and ultimately decided neither was comfortable attending the show.
“No, my wife’s not going. It would be awkward for me to show up with Charlize [Theron],” Smith said. “We’ve discussed it. We’re part of this community, but at this current time, we’re uncomfortable to stand there and say that this is OK.”
“I heard [my wife’s] words and I was knocked over. I was happy to be married to that woman,” he continued. “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.”
Smith insists that the worldwide #OscarsSoWhite stir is not about him, but rather about future generations who don’t have anyone to emulate.
“This is so deeply not about me,” he said. “This is about children that are going to sit down, and they’re going to watch the show, and they’re not going to see themselves represented.”
Directors Spike Lee and Michael Moore have also stated that they’re not attending the ceremony. Hollywood heavyweight George Clooney weighed in on the controversy, too, saying “[Hollywood is] moving in the wrong direction.”
© 2016 Shaw Media