Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lupita Nyong’o, Will Smith, and Stacey Dash Weigh In on the Oscars Diversity Controversy
JANUARY 21, 2016 1:53 PM

On the heels of Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith publicly announcing their decision not to attend this year’s Oscars ceremony, more celebrities continue to weigh in on the #oscarssowhite controversy.

This morning, Will Smith, who recently attended the Golden Globe Awards with his wife, Pinkett Smith, announced that he will also not be heading to this year’s Academy Awards. During his interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, the Concussion star explained, “We’re part of this community, but at this current time, we’re uncomfortable to stand there and say that this is okay.” Then he added, “My wife’s not going. It would be awkward to show up with Charlize [Theron].”

Even this year’s nominees are starting to ponder whether they should sit this one out. Best Supporting Actor nominee Mark Ruffalo told BBC News he was still debating his decision to attend the Oscars on February 28. “I’m weighing it. That’s where I’m at right now,” he said. “I woke up in the morning thinking, What is the right way to do this? Because if you look at Martin Luther King’s legacy, what he was saying was, the good people who don’t act are much worse than the people, the wrongdoers, that are purposely not acting and don’t know the right way.”

Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o, who won Best Supporting Actress in 2014 for her work in 12 Years a Slave, posted a statement on Instagram yesterday expressing her disappointment with the lack of diversity in this year’s acting nominations. “I stand with my peers who are calling for change in expanding the stories that are told and recognition of the people who tell them,” she wrote.

Idris Elba, who was considered an Oscar front-runner for his turn as a ruthless commander in Beasts of No Nation, failed to score a nomination, even though his performance was nominated for Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA, and Independent Spirit awards. Coincidentally, the British actor was already scheduled to deliver a speech on TV and film diversity at the U.K. parliament this week. Considering his much-discussed Oscars snub, his riveting speech couldn’t have come at a more relevant moment. “I’m not here to talk about black people; I’m here to talk about diversity. Diversity in the modern world is more than just skin color—it’s gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, social background, and—most important of all, as far as I’m concerned—diversity of thought,” he said. “Because if you have genuine diversity of thought among people making TV and film, then you won’t accidentally shut out any of the groups I just mentioned.” Nyong’o was so inspired by Elba’s words that she also posted a portion of his speech to her Instagram account last night.

But not all celebrities who are speaking out are in support of the boycott. Yesterday, Fox News correspondent Stacey Dash went on Fox & Friends and called Pinkett Smith and Lee’s stance “ludicrous”. “Either we want to have segregation or integration. If we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the [NAACP] Image Awards, where you’re only awarded if you’re black,” she said. “If it were the other way around, we would be up in arms.” Yet the actress did acknowledge a need for greater diversity within the Academy membership. According to a 2012 investigative report by the Los Angeles Times, approximately 94 percent of Academy voters are white.

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