Will Smith would like to thank the Academy — for its swift reaction to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, that is. The Concussion star sat down with BBC Breakfast presenter Charlie Stay on Friday, January 29, to commend the organization for their quick actions.
“I was very pleased at how quickly and aggressively the Academy responded,” he said. “But I want to be very clear about the spirit of what I’m saying. This is far beyond me. This has nothing to do with me, this has nothing to do with awards. Awards, that’s a really frivolous reason for me to put my hand up and make a statement. For me, this is much more about the idea of diversity and inclusion.”
Smith, 47, and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith have been at the forefront of the debate surrounding the lack of racial diversity in this year’s Oscars nominees. (The actor, who was previously nominated for 2002’s Ali and 2007’s The Pursuit of Happyness, failed to receive an Oscar nod for his turn as real-life Dr. Bennett Omalu in Concussion, a fact that many people find suspect in relation to their call for a boycott.)
On Monday, January 18, Pinkett Smith, 44, shared a video on Facebook calling for an official boycott of the awards show.
“I can’t help but ask the question — is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence that we have amassed?” she asks in the clip. “We no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere. … The Academy has the right to acknowledge whoever they choose. To invite whoever they choose. And now, I think that it’s our responsibility to make the change.”
The former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star remained mum on the topic for a few days, but on Thursday, January 21, he revealed on Good Morning America that Pinkett Smith’s call was as much of a surprise to him as it was to everyone else.
“I was out of the country at the time, and I came home [and said], ‘What happened?’” he said. “She’s deeply passionate, and when she’s moved, she has to go. I heard her words, and I was knocked over. I was happy to be married to that woman. I appreciated the push.”
Smith added that his wife would have made the same statement even if he had been nominated.
“For Jada, had I been nominated and no other people of color were, she would have made the video anyway,” he said. “This is so deeply not about me. This is about children that are going to sit down and they’re going to watch this show and they’re not going to see themselves represented.”
Neither Pinkett Smith nor Smith will attend the Oscars on February 28.
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