The #OscarsSoWhite movement gains momentum amid celebrity pressure on the Academy Awards.
The full nominee list for the 88th Annual Academy Awards was released over the weekend, and while many people were discussing whether or not Leo DiCaprio would finally win his first Oscar, a few other people noticed a much more glaring issue: for the second year in a row there are no people of color among any of the 20 actors and actresses nominated.
Notable snubs include Will Smith (“Concussion”), Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”), Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight”), and the entire cast of “Straight Outta Compton.” Now, a few celebrities are clapping back at the Academy for what they see as an unforgivable oversight given how much talent was available for selection.
Jada Pinkett Smith posted Saturday on Facebook and Twitter, "At the Oscars, people of color are always welcomed to give out awards, even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together?”
Today, venerable director and honorary Academy Award winner Spike Lee posted a longer missive on Instagram, also bowing out from attending this year’s Academy Awards. He acknowledged the timing of his post (MLK Day) and went on to add, “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.” The whole thing is worth reading.
Two actors refusing to attend won’t make a huge difference to the Academy, even if it looks bad. However, with the #OscarSoWhite online movement continuing to gain momentum and rumors of this year's host Chris Rock potentially dropping out, there’s no doubt these issues are going to be at the forefront of Academy Award conversations for weeks to come. That’s at least something Dr. Martin Luther King would be happy to hear.