Will Smith will be joining his wife Jada Pinkett Smith in boycotting the 88th Academy Awards over this year’s all-white acting nominees, the actor said on Thursday’s Good Morning America on ABC.
“My wife’s not going. It would be awkward for me to show up with Charlize [Theron],” Smith joked to Robin Roberts. “No, we’ve discussed it, and we’re a part of this community, but at this current time, we’re uncomfortable to stand there and say this is okay.”
Pinkett Smith posted a video online last Sunday, in which she lamented the treatment of black actors in entertainment.
“Maybe it is time that we pull back our resources, and we put them back into our communities, into our programs, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit that are just as good as the so-called mainstream ones,” she said.
The actress’s statement came following an announcement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) that all 20 Oscar nominations in the four major acting categories had gone to white actors for the second consecutive year.
Smith, who many believed would pick up a nomination this year for his role in Concussion, was among those left off the ballot.
“I was out of the country at the time. And I came home, ‘What happened?’” Smith laughed on GMA, explaining that he was unaware of his wife’s plans to speak on the renewed controversy of diversity in the Oscars nominations. “She’s deeply passionate, and when she is moved, she has to go.” He continued:
I heard her words and I was knocked over. I was happy to be married to that woman. There’s a position that we hold in this community, and if we’re not a part of the solution, we’re part of the problem. And it was her call to action for herself and for me and for our family to be a part of the solution.
“I think that diversity is the American superpower,” Smith added.
He also argued that Hollywood’s demographics should reflect the country’s racial makeup. “I think that I have to protect and fight for the ideals that make our country and make our Hollywood community great.” He elaborated:
When I look at it, the nominations reflect the Academy. The Academy reflects the industry, reflects Hollywood and then the industry reflects America. It reflects a series of challenges that we are having in our country at the moment. There’s a regressive slide towards separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony and that’s not the Hollywood that I want to leave behind. That’s not the industry, that’s not the America I want to leave behind.
The actor then weighed in on whether or not his being shut out of the Academy’s nominations is a motivating factor in his wife’s anger.
“There’s probably a part of that in there but, for Jada, had I been nominated and no other people of color were, she would have made the video anyway,” he said. “We’d still be here having this conversation. This is so deeply not about me. This is about children that are going to sit down, and they’re going to watch the show, and they’re not going to see themselves represented.”
On Wednesday, Gibson called for host Chris Rock to step down as this year’s host.