Will Smith, perhaps the most high profile star to boycott this year’s Oscars over a lack of diversity among nominees, said in a new interview that he was “very pleased” with the Academy’s promise to make “historic” changes to its membership.
In an interview with BBC Breakfast, Smith admitted that while he approved of how “quickly and aggressively” the Academy responded, there is still work to be done. “I think that it’s not ‘us and them,’ it’s ‘we,'” Smith said. “I’m a member of the Academy, so it’s much more of a domestic family issue than it is a civil rights issue, so it’s a problem ‘we’ all have to solve.”
Smith reiterated that his role in the boycott wasn’t because he was overlooked for a Best Actor nomination for Concussion. “I want to be very clear about the spirit of what I’m saying. This is far beyond me. This has nothing to do with me. This has nothing to do with awards,” Smith said. “Awards are a really frivolous reason for me to put my hand up and make a statement. For me, this is much more about the idea of diversity and inclusion.”
Smith joined his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and filmmaker Spike Lee in boycotting this year’s Academy Awards after, for the second straight year, all 20 of the best acting nominees were white. “If we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem,” Smith said of joining the boycott.
In response to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Academy pledged to double its number of women and minority members by 2020. Host Chris Rock also rewrote his opening monologue to address the Oscars’ lack of diversity and subsequent boycott.