Will Smith Will Not Attend Oscars, Says Nominees Reflect ‘Disharmony’ in America
Will Smith told ABC News Thursday that he will not attend the Academy Awards, saying that the nominees’ lack of diversity reflected a failure on Hollywood’s part to live up to the best American ideals.
With his decision not to be present at the ceremony, he joins his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and film director Spike Lee, who have each voiced their protest at the fact that the Academy chose to honor almost exclusively white actors and filmmakers for the second year in a row.
“The beauty of Hollywood, combined with American ideals, is the ultimate dreams for humanity,” he told ABC News‘s Robin Roberts. “The basis of the American concept of ‘Anything is possible’ — with hard work and dedication no matter your race or religion or creed — none of that matters in America.”
Smith spoke highly of his profession and colleagues, and noted that he had been nominated twice before for Academy Awards, and both times lost the statuette to African-Americans (Denzel Washington in 2002 and Forest Whitaker in 2007).
Smith’s announcement comes days after his wife posted a video on Facebook, expressing her intention not to attend or watch the Oscars, a video that inspired derision from, among others, Fox News correspondent Stacey Dash and Smith’s former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-star Janet Hubert. And Baz Bamigboye, an entertainment columnist for The Daily Mail, objected that “the movies this year with black actors and black film-makers aren’t of that high quality.”
Smith conceded that the fact that he did not get nominated this year for his performance in Concussion was “probably a part” of his what informed his wife’s decision, but noted that, had he been the only non-white nominee, “she would have made the video.”
He sought to connect his decision with a dedication to higher ideals:
I think that diversity is the American superpower. That’s why we’re great. So many different people from so many different places adding their ideas, their inspiration, and their influences to this beautiful American gumbo. And for me, at it’s best, Hollywood represents and then creates the imagery for that beauty. But for my part I think that I have to protect and fight for the ideals that make our country and make our Hollywood community great. So when I look at the series of nominations — the Academy — it’s not reflecting that beauty.
[…] The nominations reflect the Academy. The Academy reflects the industry, reflects Hollywood. And then the industry reflects America — it reflects a series of challenges that we’re having in our country at the moment. There’s a regressive slide toward separatism, toward racial and religious disharmony.
“This is so deeply not about me,” he insisted.
The Oscars will air Feb.28 on ABC. Chris Rock is hosting.
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