Speaking out for more diversity in Hollywood, the Chi-Raq director received an Honorary Oscar last November at the Governors Awards, but today Spike Lee says he will not be attending the Academy Awards on February 28 because of “another all white ballot.”
No African-Americans were among the Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress or Supporting categories in last week’s Oscar nominations. The absence of Straight Outta Compton for Best Picture, Creed director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan, The Hateful Eight‘s Samuel L. Jackson and Concussion‘s Will Smith sparked dismay and the return of #OscarsSoWhite online. Additionally, Brit Idris Elba was not among the nominees for his Beasts Of No Nation performance.
In an all caps statement posted online this Martin Luther King Jr Day, the Do The Right Thing director slammed the “lilly white” state of the top Oscar nominations categories. As he had at the Governors Awards last fall, Lee also called out for change on the executive level. “As I see it,” wrote Lee today, “the Academy Awards is not where the ‘real’ battle is. It’s in the executive office of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks. This is where the gate keepers decide what gets made and what gets jettisoned to ‘turnaround’ or scrap heap.”
— Spike Lee (@SpikeLee) January 18, 2016
Read Spike Lee’s full statement today here:
I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White?
And Let’s Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can’t Act?! WTF!! It’s No Coincidence I’m Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday. Dr. King Said “There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It’s Right”. For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken.
As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The “Real” Battle Is. It’s In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To “Turnaround” Or Scrap Heap. This Is What’s Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With “The Green Light” Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, “I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS”. People, The Truth Is We Ain’t In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White.
We must stand in our power. https://t.co/jaCJf4b9rH
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 18, 2016
In a video posted online today, Jada Pinkett Smith also reiterated remarks she had made on the weekend about the absence of people of color in the Oscar nominations. “Begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power,” said the Magic Mike XXL actress. “So, let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love, and let’s do us differently.” The actress also said she would not be attending or even watching the Oscars but gave a “good luck” to host Chris Rock. “I can’t think of a better man to do the job at hand this year than you my friend,” she said.