Will Smith will join his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, in boycotting the 2016 Academy Awards due to the lack of diversity in the acting categories. “We’re part of this community but at this current time, we’re uncomfortable to stand there and say that this is OK,” he told Good Morning America.
Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee were among the first to announce they would not attend this year’s Oscars after only white actors were nominated for the second year in a row. While Smith said he was out of the country when his wife posted her video to Facebook, he said he was “knocked over” by her words.
“There is a position that we hold in this community, and if we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem,” Smith said. “It was her call to action, for herself, and for me and for our family to be a part of the solution.”
Smith’s turn in Concussion — which chronicles the head trauma crisis in the NFL — is one of several roles that critics of the Oscars have pointed to, along with performances by Michael B. Jordan (Creed) and Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation). But Smith said his snub was not the sole reason behind his wife’s decision to boycott, noting Pinkett Smith probably would have still made a video if he had been the only person of color to receive a nomination.
“The nominations reflect the Academy,” Smith said. “The Academy reflects the industry [Hollywood] and then the industry reflects America. There is a regressive slide towards separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony and that’s not the Hollywood that I want to leave behind … We’re all in this together. We got to figure it out and we got to make it right.”
Smith’s 2016 Oscar boycott won’t be his first of an awards ceremony. In 1989, he joined DJ Jazzy Jeff, LL Cool J and Salt-n-Pepa in declining to attend the Grammys after it was announced that the inaugural Best Rap Performance award would not be televised. (Others in the hip-hop community protested the exclusion of artists like KRS-One, N.W.A and Big Daddy Kane from the nominations). Smith and Jazzy Jeff went on to win the award for “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”