Hollywood director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith announced recently that the Oscar awards lacked black performers for a second straight year.
This led to the announcement of their intention to boycott the award ceremony this year and the revival of the Twitter feed #OscarsSoWhite that emerged in 2015.
Lee, the director of Do the Right Thing and 2015’s Chi-Raq, said he had timed his announcement with the national holiday commemorating slain civil rights leader, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“How is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the Actor Category are white? And let’s not even get into the other branches,” Lee wrote under the #OscarsSoWhite hash tag.
“Forty white actors in two years and no ‘flava’ at all. We can’t act?!” said Lee, who was awarded an honorary Oscar in November.
Lee said that his decision to stay away from the ceremony was meant as no disrespect to Oscar emcee Chris Rock and producer Reginald Hudlin, both of whom are black, or to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) officials.
Pinkett Smith, who appeared in two ‘Matrix’ movies, also said she would skip the Feb. 28 ceremony.
“Maybe it’s time we pulled back our resources and we put them back into our communities, and we make programmes for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit that are just as good as the so-called mainstream,” she said in a video on Facebook.
Will Smith, her husband who stars in the football injury drama Concussion and Idris Elba, who portrayed an African warlord in Beasts of No Nation, were among black actors snubbed this year.
The black cast and director of hip hop biopic Straight Outta Compton were also left out.
The boycott statements came after comedy Ride Along 2 starring black actors Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, pushed Star Wars: The Force Awakens from its position atop the weekend box office.
However, the Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs acknowledged that the Academy needed to do more to promote diversity.
She said that while the Academy, which awards the Oscars, had made changes in recent years to drive diversity, “the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more.”
#Isaacs, who is African American, called for “big changes”, saying she was “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion” in this year’s crop of nominees.
“In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity,” Isaacs said.
The nominees for the 2016 Oscar awards were announced on Thursday, January 14 with DiCaprio’s Revenant getting 12 nominations.