Just days after confirming that he’d be the fifth Black performer to host the 91st annual Academy Awards next year, Kevin Hart has now announced he’s stepping down.
The move comes after mounting pressure from the LGBTQ community after old tweets surfaced that were decidedly anti-gay, coupled with comments made during his past stand-up comedy routines.
And while some tweets had been deleted by Thursday, Hart tried to dismiss the controversy in a video shared on Instagram Thursday. He began a lengthy caption of that video with, “Stop looking for reasons to be negative.”
“My team calls me, ‘Oh my God, Kevin, everyone’s upset by tweets you did years ago,’” he said shirtless in that video. “Guys, I’m nearly 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify the past, do you. I’m the wrong guy, man.”
A second video surfaced hours later, with Hart telling his fans that the Academy called to tell him to apologize or “we’re going to have to move on and find another host.”
In the video, Hart says that he wouldn’t apologize again because “I’ve addressed this several times.”
“I’ve done it. I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different space in my life,” he said, calling his critics “internet trolls.”
It only took two hours for Hart to reveal that he’d stepped down — in yet another post on social media.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s,” he tweeted Thursday. “This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
Hart continued, “I’m sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”
So far, the Academy hasn’t addressed the controversy.
The 91st annual Academy Awards will be held on February 24, 2019.