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Steve Harvey Weighs In on Oscars 2016 Boycott: ‘Nobody Knows Who the Academy Is’

Steve Harvey

Steve Harvey would like to speak up! The Miss Universe host weighed in on the Oscars controversy over the primarily all-white nominees on Wednesday, January 20, saying his Academy Awards counterpart, Chris Rock, should stand his ground as host of the 88th annual awards show.

“I understand the boycott,” Harvey, 59, said during a Q&A for the National Association of Television Program Executives (via The Hollywood Reporter). “I understand what they’re saying.” 

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The 2016 Oscar nominees were announced last Thursday, and the controversy quickly intensified when #OscarsSoWhite became a trending topic on social media. The dialogue continued on Monday, January 19, after Jada Pinkett Smith announced on Facebook that she was boycotting the show. Director Spike Lee also wrote on Instagram that he would not be attending the 2016 ceremony. Some critics, including Tyrese Gibson, then called for Rock to step down as host of the broadcast.

But not the Family Feud host. “What I don’t understand is asking Chris Rock not to host,” Harvey said. “I think Chris Rock should host. Chris Rock doesn’t determine who the [nominees] are. The Academy does. And nobody knows who the Academy is.”

Chris Rock
Chris Rock speaks onstage during the BET Awards in 2014.

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The comedian reiterated this point to Access Hollywood on Wednesday night. “You take Chris off, ain’t no blacks. Nowhere,” Harvey told the outlet. “You can’t go forward and backwards at the same time.”

Some of the stars excluded from major acting categories this year include Will Smith for his role in Concussion and Idris Elba of Beasts of No Nation. Harvey said he empathizes with those who were snubbed and overlooked.

Oscars Academy Awards
Oscar nominees for Best Actor is announced by actor John Krasinski and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs during the Academy Awards Nominations Announcement

“If it were happening to you, you’d feel the same thing,” Harvey said during his Q&A. “How the hell did you have Friends in New York, and none of them [are] black? You have no black friends in New York? If you’re in Rhode Island, I’d let it slide.”

In addition, Harvey told Access Hollywood that the Oscars’ dialogue should highlight overarching societal concerns. “The bigger statement would be if we stop shooting black kids that were unarmed. The bigger statement would be if we had some type of damn gun control laws; that would be a bigger statement,” he said. “What you dumping it on a black comedian for?”

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