Shortly after the Academy announced their nominations for the upcoming awards ceremony on February 28th, a particular hashtag grew legs across our most used social media channels: #OscarsSoWhite. It’s not the first time the lack of diversity among nominees has been raised, and we suspect it won’t be the last. This time around, however, notable names in the film industry have spoken publicly about their decision to boycott the Oscars entirely until such a time comes when this highly coveted institution reflects the multi-ethnic talent pool from which they should be choosing. The issue that many people have is in the fact that not a single non-white person received a nomination, apart from former Oscar winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu whose name was awkwardly mispronounced by the Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Other points of view suggest that people of colour are invited to give out the awards, but not receive them. Hosted this year by black actor and comedian Chris Rock, you can expect at least one nod toward this controversial discourse.
Jada Pinkett Smith has decided that she will neither attend the awards nor watch them on TV. In a video posted to her Facebook page, that’s already garnered almost 4 million views, the A-lister lays her reasoning bare:
“I can’t help but ask the question, it is time that people of color recognize how much power, influence that we have amassed that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere? The Academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose, to invite whomever they choose. And now I think that it’s our responsibility now to make the change. Maybe it is time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, into our programs and we make programs for ourselves… that acknowledge us in ways we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called mainstream ones… begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power.”
She wraps up her message with a nod to her friend who’s bagged the presenter gig: “Hey, Chris, I will not be at the Academy Awards, and I will not be watching, but I can’t think of a better man to do the job this year than you, my friend.”
Director Spike Lee has also announced to his fans that he will not be attending for the very same reasons, but as to whether Jada’s decision will influence other people of colour, we’ll have to wait and see.
Do you feel that Creed’s star Michael B Jordan should have been acknowledged? What about Idris Elba for a Best Supporting Actor nod in Beasts of no Nation? The star of Luther has also recently made headlines for his desire to see more diversity in media. As per the BBC, in an address to MPs in Parliament, Elba urged better representation of not only people of different race, but women and disabled people too. Elba describes the American Dream as “the most famous diversity policy of all.” But “the problem is the gap between the dream and reality.” Watch his full address below.
What are your thoughts on #OscarsSoWhite and do you feel diversity is a major issue in media and Hollywood?