On Monday night, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement after Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee said they are boycotting the Oscars award show due to the lack of diversity in the nominations.

“I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees. While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond,” said the first paragraph of the statement.

Pinkett released a video Monday via Facebook explaining why she is choosing to keep away from the award show. “The Academy has the right to acknowledge whoever they choose. To invite whoever they choose. And now I think that it’s our responsibility now to make the change,” she noted. “Begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people, and we are powerful. So let the Academy do them in all grace and love. And let’s do us differently.”

The drama began Jan. 14 after the nominations were announced. For the second consecutive year, all nominees in the major acting categories were white.

Will Smith, Pinkett’s husband, was left out of the nominating categories despite his nod at the Golden Globes for his role in Concussion. Similar to Pinkett, Lee took to his social media to explain why he is also not attending the award show:

“I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, 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.”

His caption was alongside a photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his senior photo from Morehouse College in 1948.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – His senior photo from Morehouse College (Class of 1948) Good morning, people. With my essay ” #OscarsSoWhite …Again” that I posted yesterday, it was cut off half way through. This is the remainder of it. Please read and Thank You for your love and support for the position my wife, Ms. Tonya Lewis Lee and I have taken for the upcoming 2016 Oscars. ———————— As I Said In My Honorary Oscar Acceptance Speech, It’s Easier For An African-American To Be President Of The United States Than Be President Of A Hollywood Studio. Also The United States Census Bureau Released A Report Stating White Americans Will Be A Minority In America By The Year 2044. Don’t You Think It’s A Wise Business Decision To Have Your Product And Workforce Reflect The Diversity Of The Greatest Country On This God’s Earth? I Ask, What’s The Hold Up? And Please… Don’t Go To The Well And Say There Are No Qualified Minority Candidates For These Green Light Gate Keeping Positions. It’s Amazing How Far Sports And Music Have Moved Ahead Of Hollywood And Television, But Maybe We Can Learn From Them Too. Your Honor, I Present Exhibit A: The National Football League’s Rooney Rule. It’s Named After The Late Dan Rooney, Owner Of The Pittsburgh Steelers. Mr. Rooney Was Also Chairman Of The League’s Diversity Committee. The Rooney Rule States NFL Teams MUST Interview Minority Candidates For The Positions Of Head Coach And Senior Football Executives Before Hires. Since Being Put In Place Before The 2006 Season, African-American Hires Have Increased. Facebook And Pinterest Have Their Own Version Of The Rooney Rule To Hire Minorities. Why Can’t Hollywood Do The Same? It’s Worth The Effort Or It Will Be The Same Old Hi-Jinks. I Do Hope In My Children’s Lifetime Things Will Change For The Betterment Of All Americans. A Great Diverse America. Spike Lee Filmmaker Da Republic Of Brooklyn, New York MLK Day January 18th, 2016

A photo posted by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

This year’s host, Chris Rock, has also voiced his joking concern about the list of nominees. He took to Twitter and captioned the Oscar video promotion with, “The #Oscars. The White BET Awards.”  

The show will air live on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. EST on ABC.

 

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