Since we first reported on the #OscarsSoWhite debate, the world’s stars have spoken out about the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscars nominations, with Jada Pinkett-Smith, Spike Lee, Stacey Dash and Lupita Nyong’o amongst the many sharing their thoughts.
Following the announcement of the nomination list, on Martin Luther King’s birthday, Do the Right Thing director Spike Lee posted a picture to his Instgram account, saying that he will not be attending the Oscars.
The icon, who received an honorary Oscar last November, wrote;
“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!!”
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.”
Echoing Mr Lee’s sentiments, Jada Pinkett-Smith – whose husband Will Smith was among those who did not make the nominations, for his role in Concussion – released a video stating that she will not be attending or watching the Oscars, saying;
“Maybe it’s time that we recognise that if we love and respect and acknowledge ourselves in the way in which we are asking others to do, that that is the place of true power.
Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people and we are powerful,” she said. “Let’s do us, differently.”
The story took a slight left, when former Fresh Prince of Bel Air actress Janet Hubert (who played the part of Aunt Viv), released a response video, calling Jada out for ‘speaking for her man’, saying;
“Girl friend… There’s a lot of shit going on in the world that you don’t seem to recognise. People are dying, our boys are being shot left and right… people are hungry… people are trying to pay bills, and you’re talking about some muck up of actors and Oscars. It just aint that deep.
…For you to ask other actors and… actresses to jeopardise their career and their standing in the town, [when] you know damn well that you don’t do that… They don’t care!
And I find it ironic that somebody who has made their living… and millions and millions of dollars from the very people that you talk about boycotting – just because you didn’t get a nomination, just because you didn’t win? That is not the way life works baby….”
While making some valid points, Hubert’s speech hinted at a grudge being kept against Will Smith, since he decided not to back her plead for a raise in wages on the show, which ultimately lead to Hubert’s replacement – the actress going on to say;
“…Karma must be a bitch because now here you are… you’ve had a few flops. There are those out there who really deserved a nod and Idris Elba is one of them …that man is an incredible actor – you are not. Maybe you didn’t deserve a nomination!
You have a huge production company that you only produce [work for] your friends, your family and yourself. So you are a part of Hollywood – you are a part of the system that isn’t fair to other actors. So get real.”
In response to Hubert and the media frenzy that followed, Will Smith told ABC News this morning that Jada’s statements were “so deeply not about” his Oscars snub, saying;
“There’s a position that we hold in this community, and if we’re not a part of the solution, we’re a part of the problem. It was her call to action for herself, for me and for our family to be a part of the solution.
The star went on to easy that he would not be attending the event either, explaining;
I think that I have to protect and fight for the ideals that make our country and make our Hollywood community great… This is about children that are going to sit down and they’re going to watch this show, and they’re not going to see themselves represented.”
But like Janet Hubert, controversial actress Stacey Dash also spoke out, saying that a boycott of the Oscars would be “ludicrous.” The Clueless star told Fox News yesterday;
“We have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration. And if we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the (NAACP) Image Awards where you’re only awarded if you’re black.
If it were the other way around, we would be up in arms. It’s a double standard.”
While most of the internet disagreed with the idea that black-founded platforms like the BET Channel and its awards need to go, it was Ms Dash’s problem with Black History Month that had social media up in arms. The actress said;
“Just like there shouldn’t be a Black History Month. You know? We’re Americans. Period. That’s it.”
BET quickly responded with a tweet highlighting the fact that Ms Dash starred in one of their popular programs, The Game, playing the role of of Camille Rose for two years. Then, along with the many memes posted about Stacey, linking her to her character Dionne in Clueless, BET posted a gallery on their site, titled “Every Time Stacey Dash Proved She Was Clueless” – one of the captions in their post reading;
“She thinks there needs to be a white history month too, since, you know, our ancestors apparently fought for nothing.”
Quietly weighing in on the debate, actress Lupita Nyong’o shared her thoughts via Instagram yesterday, posting a picture to her account on “calling for change”;
Other actors have also expressed their view, including Selma actor David Oyelowo who said during a speech at the King Legacy Awards;
“This institution doesn’t reflect its president. I am an Academy member and it doesn’t reflect me. It doesn’t reflect this nation.”
Industry veteran, Don Cheadle joked with Chris Rock – who is set to host the event – saying on Twitter;
“Yo Chris, come check me out at the Oscars this year. They got me parking cars on level G.”
Meanwhile, Spike Lee has returned to the spotlight, this time via ABC’s Good Morning America, to explain that he doesn’t support the idea of a ‘boycott’ per se, saying;
“Here’s the thing. I have never used the word boycott. All I said was my beautiful wife Tonya, we’re not coming. That’s it, then I gave the reasons, so I never used the word boycott.
It’s like do you. We’re not coming… Everyone else can do what they want to do.”
The film legend, who is also set to release a new Michael Jackson documentary later this year, says that a system needs to be put into place that allows more people of colour and other ethnicities into executive production roles, explaining;
“It goes further than the Academy Awards. It has to go back to the gatekeepers. The people who have the green-light vote. We’re not in the room.
The executives, when they have these green-light meetings quarterly where they look at the scripts, they look who’s in it and they decide what we’re making and what we’re not making.”
Taking a similar approach and explaining her initial statement (while also responding to Janet Hubert), Jada was again seen on camera, saying;
“Considering that Alabama had its highest recruitment for the KKK on Martin Luther King’s birthday, I hope that we as African Americans can find a way to get along and step together in this.
And here’s the deal… this whole Oscars controversy isn’t really about the Oscars – but really, in my plea, to ask all communities and people of colour to take back our power, so we can use it in all sectors of our community …I got love for everybody.”
With a month still to go before the Oscars actually takes place, no doubt there’ll be more stars weighing in on the lack of diversity at this year’s event. Meanwhile, tell us what you think about the Smiths’ vs Janet Hubert, Stacey Dash vs BET and Hollywood’s plan to boycott the Oscars in the comments box below or online @SPICETVAFRICA.
Image source: Huffingtonpost.com, @Bet, Buzzfeed.com, Abcnews.com, @Lupitanyongo, @Jadapsmith, Albanydailystar.com, Etonline.com