Jada Pinkett Smith Suggests Minorities Boycott Oscars over All-White Acting Nominations

Jada Pinkett Smith, and Will Smith arrive for the 73nd annual Golden Globe Awards, January 10, 2016, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON / AFP / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith became the latest celebrity to weigh in on the renewed #OscarsSoWhite controversy over the weekend, when she took to social media to ask if minorities should boycott the awards ceremony after the Academy nominated exclusively white actors in top categories for a second straight 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,” the wife of actor Will Smith wrote on Twitter Saturday. “Should people of color refrain from participating all together?”

“People only treat us in the way in which we allow,” she added, signing off: “With much respect in the midst of deep disappointment. J.”

The #OscarsSoWhite controversy first emerged last year, when many critics blasted the Academy for failing to recognize Selma director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo for awards in their respective categories. After this year’s nominations were announced Thursday, the controversy was renewed again when critics pointed out that films like Straight Outta Compton, Concussion, Beasts of No Nation, and Creed had failed to secure any nominations for their minority cast and crew members.

Pinkett Smith is just the latest to criticize the Academy for its award voting this year; in a promo for the upcoming February 28 broadcast, host Chris Rock referred to the awards ceremony as “the white BET Awards.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton also blasted the award show and the Hollywood film industry in general, which he said perpetuates a “fraudulent image of progressive and liberal politics and policies.”

“Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher up you get the whiter it gets and this year’s Academy Awards will be yet another Rocky Mountain Oscars,” Sharpton said. “Yet again, deserving Black actors and directors were ignored by the Academy — which reinforces the fact that there are few if any Blacks with real power in Hollywood.”

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs swiftly responded to the controversy, telling Deadline on Thursday: “Of course I am disappointed, but this is not to take away the greatness [of the films nominated]. This has been a great year in film, it really has across the board.”

At the Academy’s Governor Awards last month, Boone Isaacs announced a new diversity initiative called A2020, a five-year mentorship and training program that aims to bolster diversity efforts across the film industry.


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