Filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith said in separate messages on Monday that they will not attend the February 28 Oscars ceremony this year, boycotting the Academy Awards over the lack of African-American nominees for the second year in a row. While Lee took to Instagram to announce his protest, Jada posted a video on her Facebook page. Her husband Will Smith was rumoured to be in the running for a nomination for his role in Concussion.
Lee believes that the “real battle” over racism in Hollywood was not with the Academy Awards itself, but in the “executive offices of Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks” where people approve or reject projects. In November, he received an honorary Oscar at a banquet in Hollywood, where he said, “It’s easier to be president of the United States as a black person than be head of a (movie) studio.”
The Oscars drew major criticism after the nominees were announced on Thursday. Once again, no minorities were nominated in any of the four acting categories, leading to #OscarsSoWhite trending on social media. Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation, Michael B Jordan in Creed and the cast of Straight Outta Compton were among others believed to have been shunned by the white-dominated Oscar panel.