Spike Lee will boycott this year’s Academy Awards after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated exclusively white actors in top categories for a second consecutive year.
In an Instagram post Monday morning, the Chi-Raq director said he meant “no disrespect” toward ceremony host Chris Rock and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, but felt compelled to act after seeing this year’s nominations.
“How is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the acting category are white?” Lee wrote in a lengthy post. “And let’s not even get into the other branches. Forty white actors in two years and flava at all. We can’t act?! WTF!!”
Lee added that it was “no coincidence” that he made his boycott announcement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
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,’” Lee wrote. “For too many years, when the Oscar 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.
The #OscarsSoWhite controversy, which emerged for the first time last year, was renewed again last week when critics pointed out that films featuring black actors — Concussion, Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, Creed — had failed to garner any acting nominations for its stars.
Chris Rock, who will host the Oscars on February 28, joked about the controversy, calling the ceremony the “white BET Awards.” Others, like Straight Outta Compton producer Will Packer, called the snubs a “complete embarrassment.” The Rev. Al Sharpton blasted Hollywood for perpetuating what he called a “fraudulent image of progressive and liberal politics and policies.”
On Saturday, actress Jada Pinkett Smith suggested that minorities boycott the Oscars this year: ““At the Oscars… people of color are always welcomed to give out awards… even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic achievements. Should people of color refrain from participating all together?” she asked.
In his Instagram post, Lee said that the “‘real’ battle” for diversity in the film industry is not in the Academy, but rather in the executive offices of film studios, where gatekeepers still decide which films get made. The director said much the same thing at November’s Governors Awards, where he picked up an honorary Oscar for his decades-long career in film.
“People, the truth is we ain’t in those rooms and until minorities are, the Oscar nominees will remain lily white,” he concluded.
Check out Lee’s full Instagram post below.
#OscarsSoWhite… Again. 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. (Cont'd)