Oscars boycott: Will others join Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee?

Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith each said Monday that they will not attend this year's Oscars ceremony. Will this boycott grow?

Facebook/Jada Pinket Smith
In a video posted on her Facebook page, Jada Pinkett Smith said, 'We must stand in our power.'

Calls for a boycott of the Academy Awards are growing over the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' second straight year of mostly white nominees, as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith each said Monday that they will not attend this year's ceremony.

In a lengthy Instagram post, Lee said he "cannot support" the "lily white" Oscars. Noting that he was writing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lee — who in November said he was fed up: "Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all," he wrote. "We can't act?!"

Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". 

In a video message on Facebook, Pinkett Smith also said she wouldn't attend or watch the Oscars in February. Pinkett Smith, whose husband Will Smith wasn't nominated for his performance in the NFL head trauma drama "Concussion," said it was time for people of color to disregard the Academy Awards.

"Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power," she said. "And we are a dignified people and we are powerful."

She added: "Let's let the academy do them, with all grace and love. And let's do us differently."

Last year's all-white acting nominees also drew calls for a boycott, though not from such prominent individuals as Lee and Pinkett Smith. Whether it had any impact or not, the audience for the broadcast, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, was down 16 percent from the year prior, a six-year low.

This year, academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has made a point of presenting a more inclusive show. The Feb. 28 broadcast will be hosted by Chris Rock and produced by "Django Unchained" producer Reginald Hudlin and David Hill. On Saturday, Rock, unveiling a new promotion for the broadcast, called the ceremony "The White BET Awards."

The academy didn't immediately respond to messages left Monday.

In his post, Lee made it clear the Academy Awards is only part of the problem in an industry with deep-rooted diversity issues.

"The Academy Awards is not where the 'real' battle is," wrote Lee. "It's in the executive office of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks. This is where the gate keepers decide what gets made and what gets jettisoned to 'turnaround' or scrap heap. This is what's important. The gate keepers. Those with 'the green light' vote."

The Christian Science Monitor's Jessica Mendoza reported that while the voting body of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences continues to draw criticism for its “great male whiteness,” experts and advocates are now also underscoring a more fundamental lack of diversity in the structure of film and television – even as they acknowledge the headway the industry has made over the past decade. 

“Undeniably, there has been progress,” says Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and a professor of sociology at the University of California in Los Angeles. “But [that] progress has not kept up with America. The gap between where we are as a society and the industry is increasing.

“Nirvana would be when the studios and executive suites themselves become diverse,” he adds. “That’s when we’ll say there’s success.”

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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