The drama all began last Thursday when the Academy Award nominations were announced and (surprise, surprise!) not one single Black actor or actress received an Oscar nod. In the days that followed, Black Twitter influencers and celebrities voiced their concern and outrage about not being recognized and whether award shows mean anything nowadays anyway.
It may be Red Carpet season, but red may be the only color you’re seeing at this year’s Oscars.
Emotions have been bubbling (and Black Twitter has been lit) ever since Academy Award nominations were announced last week, yet nary a single actor or actress of color—any color—was nominated for the second year in a row. Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee have both publicly announced that they will be boycotting this year’s ceremony, and they encourage others to follow suit.
Their drastic measures have sparked a movement as well as a much-needed conversation. Here’s everything you need to know about the outrage over this year’s snow white Oscars.
No Actors of Color Were Nominated
The conversation started last Thursday when the Academy announced the 2016 nominations. It didn't take Black Twitter long to notice that not a single actor of color was nominated (Refresher: The same atrocity happened last year, prompting April Reign to birth the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite).
Movies like Creed and Beasts of No Nation were glaringly overlooked, and only two Black films received nominations: Netflix's Nina Simone biopic, What Happened, Miss Simone?, scored a nod for Best Documentary Feature, and Straight Outta Compton was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
Jada Pinkett-Smith Declares That She Will Boycott the Oscars, Spike Lee Follows Suit
Mere days after the Academy's Whitewashing for the second year in the row, Jada Pinkett-Smith took to Facebook to publicly denounce the Oscars and declare that she would be boycotting this year's ceremony.
“Is it 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?” she asks in a Facebook video, going on to voice her support for Oscars host Chris Rock and wish him luck in hosting the show. “Maybe it’s time that we recognize 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.”
Days later, Spike Lee followed suit, posting on Instagram that he would not be attending the ceremony.
“We cannot support it, and [I] mean no disrespect to my friends, host Chris Rock and producer Reggie Hudlin, president [Cheryl Boone] Isaacs and the Academy,” Lee wrote on Instagram. “But, how is it possible for the second consecutive year, all 20 contenders under the acting category are White? And let’s not even get into the other branches. Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all. We can’t act?! WTF!!”
Cheryl Boone Isaacs Issues Statement Frowning Upon Lack of Diversity
The lack of color at this year’s Oscars captured the attention of Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy president (who also happens to be the first African-American president of the organization). Boone Isaacs issued a statement yesterday afternoon, condemning this year’s whitewashing and pleading for change, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
“While we celebrate [the nominees’] extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion,” she said.
“As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly,” she said, adding that there have been “four or five” exceptional diverse movies, including Creed, Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton.
Boone Isaacs pointed out that last year, the Academy formed a committee tasked with figuring out how to take steps to diversify the awards show by the year 2020.
Chris Rock Refers to Oscars as the ‘White BET Awards’
Comedian Chris Rock has been facing mounting pressure to back out of his hosting gig at this year’s Academy Awards. While he hasn’t responded to the calls, he most certainly has not turned a blind eye to the lack of diversity, reports E! Online.
Yesterday, Rock tweeted a promotional video for the show along with a caption reading, “The #Oscars. The White BET Awards.”
Stay tuned on whether Rock backs out of the February awards show, though if he doesn’t, we are guaranteed some hilarious (and thought-provoking) jokes at the Academy’s expense.
Actress Janet Hubert Claps Back at Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Boycott
Black Twitter may be applauding Pinkett-Smith for taking a stand, but the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Janet Hubert called the actress hypocritical for refusing to support the awards show, reports Entertainment Weekly.
“I find it ironic that somebody who has made their living and made millions and millions of dollars from the very people that you’re talking about boycotting just because you didn’t get a nomination, just because you didn’t win?” Hubert said in a YouTube video posted yesterday. “That is not the way life works, baby.”
And Aunt Viv wasn’t done—after calling out Pinkett-Smith, Hubert took a jab at Will Smith, suggesting that her former co-star’s performance in Concussion was lackluster.
“Maybe you didn’t deserve a nomination,” Hubert said to Smith. “I didn’t think, frankly, you deserved a Golden Globe nomination with that accent, but you got one.”
Idris Elba addressed members of Britain’s Parliament over the weekend, where he condemned the lack of diversity on television and recalled nearly “hitting his forehead” on the glass ceiling for Black actors, according to the Guardian.
“People in the TV world often aren’t the same as people in the real world,” Elba said during his speech. “And there’s an even bigger gap between people who make TV and people who watch TV…And although there’s a lot of reality TV, TV hasn’t caught up with reality. Change is coming, but it’s taking its sweet time.”
He said that he opted to pursue his career across the pond because he feared that remaining in his home country would sentence him to a lifetime of playing the best friend and “cop sidekick parts.”
“I knew I wasn’t going to land a lead role,” he said, adding that ignoring diversity “trashes talent.” “I knew there wasn’t enough imagination in the industry for me to be seen as a lead. In other words, if I wanted to star in a British drama like Luther, then I’d have to go to a country like America. And the other thing was, because I never saw myself on TV, I stopped watching TV. Instead, I decided to just go out and become TV.”
David Oyelowo Shuns the Academy for Their 'Problem' With Diversity
Selma star David Oyelowo followed in Idris Elba's footsteps while speaking at a Martin Luther King Jr. brunch on Monday afternoon.
Oyelowo condemned the Academy and attempted to distance himself from the organization ("I am an Academy member, and it doesn't reflect me").
"The Academy has a problem," Oyelowo said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "It's a problem that needs to be solved."
O’Shea Jackson Jr. Isn’t Worried About the 'Straight Outta Compton' Oscars Snub
O’Shea Jackson Jr. might be one of the few Black Hollywood stars who isn’t sweating Straight Outta Compton’s Oscars snub.
The actor told USA TODAY over the weekend said that he didn’t “stress on” the film not scoring a nod.
“All we can do is go back to the drawing board, sharpen up our tools and give them something they definitely can’t deny,” he said.
He took the snub in stride, saying that he received validation from the moviegoing-masses.
“The voters are people with their own opinions just like you and I,” Jackson said. “The people made it their No. 1 biopic. The people made [F. Gary Gray] the No. 1 Black director. It’s a movie for the people, and the people accept it.”
Will you be watching this year’s ceremony?