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Celebrities threaten to boycott ‘white’ Oscars as Academy promises changes

(London Post)   The Academy president has promised “dramatic” changes to improve inclusion at the Oscars. But this year, prominent black film stars have said they won’t be attending the ceremony.

Director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith have said they would not attend this year’s Oscars ceremony on February 28 after the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, which gives the awards, nominated only white actors for the second year in a row.

The nominations unleashed a social media frenzy under the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, with users slamming the homogenous nominations.

On Instagram, Spike Lee made it clear that he “cannot support” what he called the “lily white” Oscars. His post came on Martin Luther King Day, a public holiday in the United States. Lee won an Academy Honorary Award last November for his lifetime achievement.

“Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all,” he wrote. “We can’t act?!”

Jada Pinkett Smitt with husband, actor Will Smitt, and their children, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpaJada Pinkett Smith with husband, actor Will Smith, and their children

Jada Pinkett Smith commented in a video message on Facebook that she would not be attending or watching the Oscars. “Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power,” she said. “We are a dignified people and we are powerful.”

Pinkett Smith’s husband, Will Smith, was not nominated for his performance in “Concussion,” an NFL drama about a football player with a head injury.

Academy to take ‘dramatic steps’

Meanwhile, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is black, said Monday (18.01.2016) that she was heartbroken by the lack of diversity represented and that changes would be coming to Hollywood’s most prestigious awards.

“This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes,” she said in a statement released Monday night. “The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”

Isaacs said that inclusion is crucial for the organization this year – including gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

Scene from Straight Outta Compton, Copyright: picture alliance/AP Photo/J. TruebloodRap biopic “Straight Outta Compton” was expected to earn a nomination

#OscarsSoWhite came to life after last year’s nominations, but was quickly resurrected last week after the 2016 nominations were released.

Idris Elba and Benicio Del Toro were among the non-white actors who did not make the nomination list for their films, “Beasts of No Nation” and “Sicario,” respectively. Rap biopic “Straight Outta Compton” also went away empty-handed.

According to Spike Lee, the nominations issue is symptomatic of the whole film industry. “It’s easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than to be head of a studio,” he commented.

kbm/cat (AP, AFP)

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