Will Smith joins Oscars boycott over nominations

Actor is the latest star to criticise all-white line-up in Academy Awards acting categories

 Will Smith  and  Jada Pinkett-Smith on the red carpet in Hollywood, California, US. File photograph: Paul Buck/EPA

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith on the red carpet in Hollywood, California, US. File photograph: Paul Buck/EPA

 

Hollywood actor Will Smith has vowed to join a growing number of stars in boycotting this year’s Oscars.

The Academy Awards has been subject to criticism and calls for a boycott over its all-white line-up of acting nominees.

Smith, who many expected to pick up a lead actor nomination for his role in Concussion, told Good Morning America (GMA) he wants to be part of the solution, not the problem.

He said he is standing firmly by his wife, actor Jada Pinkett-Smith, who posted a video on Facebook announcing her Oscars boycott earlier in the week.

The actor told GMA he felt he had to “protect and fight for ideals that make our country and make our Hollywood community great, so when I look at the series of nominations of the Academy, it’s not reflecting that beauty”.

“When I see this list and series of nominations that come out, everybody is fantastic and that’s the complexity of this issue, everyone is very beautiful and deserving and it’s fantastic, but it feels like it’s going in the wrong direction.”

Calls for diversity

Director Steve McQueen and actor Lupita Nyong’o are among the other names who have called for more diversity from the Academy.

Nyong’o, who won the best supporting actress award in 2013 for her role in McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, wrote on Instagram: “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.”

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has responded to the outcry and pledged to make “big changes” to bring about “much-needed diversity”.

Smith told GMA host Robin Roberts he felt there was a “regressive slide towards separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony and that’s not the Hollywood I want to leave behind.

“That’s not the industry, that’s not the America, I want to leave behind.”

Confirming he will not attend the Oscars ceremony, he joked that it “would be awkward for me to show up with Charlize [Theron]”.

He added that he and Pinkett-Smith would be “uncomfortable to stand there and say this is okay”.

PA