There will be two empty seats during the upcoming 88th Academy Awards. Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee announced on Martin Luther King Jr. Day that they will not be attending the 2016 Oscars over the lack of diversity in this year’s nominations.
As previously reported, Pinkett Smith, 44, initially posted a series of tweets on Saturday to air her grievances. On Monday, she shared a Facebook video and confirmed that she will not be attending or watching the live show. (Last year, only white actors received nominations too.)
“I can’t help but ask the question: Is it time that people of color recognize how much power [and] influence we have amassed that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere?” the Gotham alum said in the clip, posted on Monday, January 18. “Have we now come to a new time and place where we recognize that we can no longer beg for the love, acknowledgment or respect of any group? The academy has the right to acknowledge whoever they choose. To invite whoever they choose. And now I think that it’s our responsibility now to make the change.
“Maybe it is time to 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 what the so-called ‘mainstream’ wants,” she continued. “Begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people, and we are powerful. So let the Academy do them in all grace and love. And let’s do us differently.”
The actress’ husband, Will Smith, was shut out this year from the Oscars. He was, however, nominated for a Golden Globe for his work in Concussion in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama category. He lost out to The Revenant’s Leonardo DiCaprio, but the couple were in attendance during the January 10 ceremony.
This year, the 2016 Oscars will be hosted by actor-comedian Chris Rock. “I can’t think of a better man to do the job at hand this year than you, my friend,” Pinkett Smith said on Monday. “Good luck.” (Rock previously called it the “white BET Awards.”)
The Magic Mike XXL actress isn’t the only one fighting back. Spike Lee posted a lengthy message on Instagram alongside a photo of the late Martin Luther King Jr. He first thanked President Cheryl Boone Isaacs for giving him the gold statue, but clearly the gesture wasn’t enough.
Lee received an honorary award from The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the annual Governors Awards in November. He also was nominated for Do The Right Thing in 1990 and 4 Little Girls in 1998.
“#OscarsSoWhite… Again,” the director, 58, wrote. “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?”
He added: “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.”
Lee also revealed that he’s been contacted by the media asking how he feels about the situation. But he hopes the tables will turn one day.
“I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot,” he wrote. “If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken.”
To read Lee’s entire post, go here.
The 2016 Oscars will air on ABC on February 28 at 7 p.m. EST.