Will Smith “Very Pleased” About Academy Response To #OscarsSoWhite
On Friday, Will Smith declared he was “very pleased how quickly and aggressively the Academy responded,” in an interview with the BBC.
What Smith is referring to is his support for his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith‘s decision to boycott the Academy Awards this year in reaction to the second consecutive year of all-white nominees. The Academy’s response to this was a new goal to increase diversity in the Academy by 2020 with a “global campaign” with the intention of doubling the amount of women and “diverse members” in the Academy. (According to Los Angeles Times, the Academy, as it stands right now, is 94% white and 77% male.)
Smith also clarified the nature of his support for the cause. “This is far beyond me. This has nothing to do with me. This has nothing to do with awards. That’s a really frivolous reason for me to put up my hand and make a statement,” Smith explained. “For me, this is much more about the idea of diversity an inclusion.”
This could be a response to the criticism of many (including other people of color in the business) that Pinkett-Smith’s main motivator is not the lack of nominations for people of color, but rather a lack of a nomination for her husband (for his role as Dr. Bennet Omalu in Concussion).
Janet Hubert, who appeared with Smith on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, posted a video stating her disapproval of not only Pinkett-Smith’s boycott, but also her call to other actors to boycott the show. “For you to ask other actors, and black actresses and actors too, to jeopardize their career and their standing in the town you know damn well you don’t do that,” she declared, also adding, “I find it ironic that someone who has made their living, and made millions and millions of dollars from people you’re talking about boycotting just because you didn’t get a nomination, just because you didn’t win.”
Viola Davis, two-time Oscar nominee and, recently, the first black actress to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, told ET, “The problem is not with the Oscar. The problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system… You can change the academy, but if there are no black films being produced, what is there to vote for?”
Regardless of whether they are the root of the problem, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs promised, “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up.”