Actor backs wife Jada’s attack on diversity and says he’ll be skipping ceremony too
- Smith, 47, weighed in on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America
- Concussion star revealed wife Jada did not consult him before releasing video Monday calling for boycott of the Oscars
- Admitted she may have been partially motivated by his Oscar snub but said that had he been nominated, she would have made the video anyway
- A growing number of prominent industry figures, including Spike Lee and Michael Moore, have answered Pinkett Smith’s call to action
- Will Smith said he too will be sitting out the ceremony, saying he and Jada would be ‘uncomfortable to stand there and say this is OK’
Will Smith broke his silence this morning about the controversy surrounding his wife’s proposed Oscar boycott, saying that he also won’t be attending this year’s ceremony because he believes that Hollywood is ‘going in the wrong direction’ when it comes to diversity.
The 47-year-old star of Concussion sat down with ABC’s Robin Roberts on Good Morning America to share his thoughts on this year’s overwhelmingly white Academy Award nominations, and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s videotaped call to action
‘I think that diversity is the American superpower. That’s why we’re great,’ he told Roberts in the exclusive interview.
Star speaks out: Will Smith sat down with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America Thursday to talk about the controversy surrounding this year’s Oscars. The 47-year-old star said he won’t be attending the ceremony
Blunt talk: The Concussion star said he believes the American film industry is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to diversity
‘So many different people from so many different places adding their ideas, their inspirations, their influences to this beautiful American gumbo. … so when I look at the series of nominations of the Academy, it is not reflecting that beauty.’
A growing number of Hollywood heavyweights, including Spike Lee, Michael Moore and George Clooney, have publicly criticized the Academy for failing to nominate people of color in any of the major acting categories this year.
In an interview with Variety this week, Clooney, himself a two-time Oscar winner, said Hollywood has been moving in the wrong direction on diversity over the past decade.
On Thursday, Smith seemed to echo that sentiment, recalling his personal experiences as an Oscar nominee in 2001, for the film Ali, and in 2006 for his role in The Pursuit of Happyness.
‘I’ve been nominated twice for Academy Awards, and I’ve never lost to a white person,’ he said with a laugh. ‘The first time I lost to Denzel [Washington], and the second time I lost to Forrest Whitaker.
‘I see this list and series of nominations to come out, and everyone is fantastic… but it feels like it’s going in the wrong direction,’ he added.
‘There was a regressive slide towards separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony, and that’s not the Hollywood that I want to leave behind.’
His better half: Smith revealed that wife Jada did not consult him before releasing a video Monday calling on other actors to boycott the Oscar ceremony
On Monday, Jada Pinkett Smith celebrated Martin Luther King Jr Day by releasing a video on Faceboook calling on African American actors and other players in the entertainment industry to skip the Academy Awards.
Her call to action was quickly picked up by other prominent figures in Hollywood, including David Oyelowo, Idris Elba and Whoopi Goldberg, who publicly criticized the Academy for failing to include minorities in this year’s list of nominees.
Will Smith told Roberts that he was out of the country at the time his wife’s video came out, and that he was initially blindsided by the scandal that erupted in the wake of its release, which he said Jada had not coordinated with him.
‘She’s deeply passionate and when she is moved, she has to go. And I heard her words, and I was knocked out.
Boycott: Jada Pinkett Smith has revealed she will not be attending the Oscars, or watching it on television, in response to the lack of nominations for people of color
‘There’s a position that we hold in this community, and if we’re not a part of the solution, we are part of the problem. It was her call to action for herself and for me and for our family to be part of the solution.’
Some critics, including Will Smith’s former Fresh Prince of Bel Air co-star Janet Hubert, accused Pinkett Smith of launching the boycott just because her husband did not get an Oscar nod for his starring role in Concussion – but the actor says it’s only part of the story.
‘Had I been nominated and no other people of color were, she would’ve still made the video anyway.
‘This is so deeply not about me,’ he stressed. ‘This is about children who are gonna to sit down and they are gonna watch this show and they are not going to see themselves represented.’
When asked if he was planning to attend the February 28 Oscars ceremony without Jada, Smith flatly said, ‘No.’
‘We’ve discussed it, and we’re a part of this community, but at this current time, we’re uncomfortable to stand there and say this is OK.’
CRITICS SLAM ACADEMY AWARDS FOR LACK OF DIVERSITY
Chorus of critics: (L to R) Idris Elba , Whoopi Goldberg, David Oyelowo and Snoop Dogg have condemned the Oscars’ lack of diversity among the nominees
‘This institution doesn’t reflect its president and it doesn’t reflect this room. I am an Academy member and it doesn’t reflect me, and it doesn’t reflect this nation,’ – David Oyelowo
‘You have to ask the question – are black people normally playing petty criminals? Are women always the love interest or talking about men? Are gay people always stereotyped? Are disabled people ever seen at all?’ – Idris Elba
‘… the idea that we could go two years in a row, where 40 actors could be nominated and none of them were black, is just crazy,’ – Michael Moore
‘I can’t help 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,’ – Jada Pinkett Smith
‘How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white? And let’s not even get into the other branches. 40 white actors in 2 years and no flava at all. We can’t act?! WTF!!’ – Spike Lee
‘Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher up you get the whiter it gets and this year’s Academy Awards will be yet another Rocky Mountain Oscar,’ – Rev Al Sharpton
‘Somebody asked was I gonna watch the mother****ing Oscars. F*** no! What the f*** am I gonna watch that bulls*** for? They ain’t got no n***** nominated. All these great movies and all this great s*** ya’ll keep stealing from us. F*** you! F*** you!’ – Snoop Dog to TMZ
‘Why is this a conversation that we only have once a year? Every year we get all fired up and then the rest of the year nobody says anything…. So I’m not going to boycott, but I’m going to continue to bitch as I have all year round because I’m tired of seeing movies where no one is represented except a bit of the population, not all of it,’ – Whoopi Goldberg
‘If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. Think about how many more African Americans were nominated…. And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction,’ – George Clooney
On Monday, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African American, weighed in on the so-called #OscarsSoWhite scandal, saying in a statement she was ‘heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion’ and promised to implement sweeping changes that would hopefully result in a more diverse group of nominees, and Academy members, in the years to come.
In his interview on GMA, Smith pointed a finger of blame at the Academy’s current membership, saying that it presented a hurdle for people of color and women to achieve success.
‘At this point, the Academy is 94 per cent Caucasian and 77 per cent male,’ he said. ‘It’s just difficult to get diverse cultural sampling from that group. It’s a systemic bias that needs to be addressed across the industry.’
Source: Daily Mail