The LGBTQ advocacy organization’s CEO/president Sarah Kate Ellis said she was surprised at the outcome that saw Hart step down as host of the upcoming Oscarcast Thursday night, two days after confirming he’d been offered and accepted his dream job. The stepping down came after homophobic social media postings Hart made nearly a decade ago were resurrected and went viral.
“This wasn’t the conclusion I think everyone would have liked,” Ellis told CNN’s Erica Hill.
“We were hoping this was going to turn into a teachable moment,” she said, “that Kevin Hart would still be hosting the Oscars and he would be using this moment to show, not only his evolution around the LGBTQ community, but also to then use the Oscar stage…to help build unity and awareness around the LGBTQ community and how we are marginalized in this country.”
GLAAD followed up that interview issuing a statement, from Ellis:
“Kevin Hart shouldn’t have stepped down; he should have stepped up,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Hart’s apology to LGBTQ people is an important step forward, but he missed a real opportunity to use his platform and the Oscars stage to build unity and awareness. We would still welcome that conversation with him. The Academy has recently made significant strides in featuring diverse talent onstage and they should now double down on that commitment as they look for a new host.”
Before GLAAD issued that statement, Ellis told CNN, “Whenever there are missed steps…like this, we see this as an opportunity to get the message out about acceptance for the LGBTQ community.” This was just such a “perfect opportunity,” she said, noting Hart “has such a large following and is beloved by so many Americans.”
In the post Hart wrote to withdraw from the Oscar hosting job, Hart apologized to the LGBTQ community. Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. noted had Hart “swallowed his pride and done that” earlier Thursday in the Instagram post, in which he appeared shirtless and defiant, “he could have saved the day.”
“It would have been so much better had he faced it and said this wasn’t good” and said he had “evolved from here and am an ally to the community and I am going to move forward and lead,” she told CNN.
Ellis acknowledged she was surprised the Academy seemed not to have seen this coming when it picked Hart as Oscars host, but conceded the Academy “would have had to do due diligence to have found” the older social media posts and public remarks.
CNN’s Hill noted it only took a quick Google search to find some of them.
Asked if Hart can “clean this up,” Ellis responded, “His last statement is a step in the right direction. It is never too late and I think Americans are very forgiving and do want to believe the good.”
Ellis’s CNN interview: