Oscars 2016 | Will Smith and Chris Rock join the boycott debate

The International Press and Media Group 2016 | Chris Rock
  • By Katie Nkrumah


Will Smith has confirmed he will not be attending this years Oscars

& calls are cried for regular host Chris Rock to join the boycott

Will Smith has confirmed he will be joining his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, in boycotting the Oscars next month.

The internationally acclaimed film star and former musician said it would be “awkward” to attend in the light of the row about the lack of representation among this year’s acting nominees.

“We’re uncomfortable to stand there and say that this is OK” Smith told Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts.

Comedian and presenter Chris Rock is facing fierce calls to withdraw from his role as host of this year’s ceremony as the row intensifies throughout the industry.

In an interview Smith said diversity was “the American super-power” and that, “at its best, Hollywood creates the imagery for that beauty”.

When Smith looked at this year’s all Caucasian line-up of acting nominees, he added “it’s not reflecting that beauty.”

“Everybody is beautiful and deserving and fantastic, but it feels like it’s going the wrong direction.” he continued. “There’s a regressive slide towards separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony and that’s not the Hollywood I want to leave behind.”

Many had expected Smith, a two-time Oscar nominee, to be shortlisted again for Concussion, in which he plays a doctor investigating head injuries sustained by American football players.

Smith insisted his own part in the current diversity debate is a nominal role.

“This is so deeply not about me,” he said. “This is about children who are going to sit down to watch this show and they are not going to see themselves represented.”

Smith’s comments will add further fuel to an issue that is threatening to overshadow this year’s awards, to be held in Los Angeles on 28 February.

They will also heap further pressure on Rock, whose role as host of the ceremony is increasingly becoming divisive.

Please do not do the Oscars awards,” wrote rapper 50 Cent on Instagram. “You mean a lot man, don’t do it. Please.”

Fast & Furious 7 star Tyrese Gibson has also joined the call for Rock to step down.

The actor said there was “no joke that [Rock] can crack” that would make up for the Academy’s failure to nominate a single non-Caucasian acting nominee.

“There is no way for him to seize the moment… and say, ‘I’m going to say this and say that I’m going to address the issue but then I’m still going to keep my gig as the host'” Gibson told USA Today. “The statement that you make is that you step down.”

Speaking at Wednesday’s National Television Awards in London, Dustin Hoffman said the all-Caucasian line-up was an example of the “subliminal racism” that exists throughout American society.



Talks of a boycott have been stoked by Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith’s separate declarations that they would not be attending or watching this year’s event.

In an interview on Wednesday, however, Lee said he had never used the world “boycott” in a statement he posted protesting against the “lilly [sic] white” event. The Do the Right Thing film-maker also said he would “support [Rock] either way” whether he chose to host the Oscars or not.

Record producer Quincy Jones is another to have qualms about attending the Oscars, revealing he had been asked to present an award on 28 February.

“I’m going to ask [them] to let me speak for five minutes on the lack of diversity.” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “If not, I’m not going to [present].”

Rock himself has largely kept his counsel about his presenting role, beyond calling the Oscars “The White BET Awards” in a promotional tweet for the telecast.

The joke refers to the annual awards presented by the Black Entertainment Television network that celebrate the achievements of African Americans and other minorities in music, acting and sports.

When Rock previously hosted the Oscars in 2005, however, he took numerous jabs at the Academy, describing the event at one point as “kinda like Def Oscar Jam” for including four black actors among the acting nominees.

Comedian and talk show host Arsenio Hall is among those calling on Rock not to step down, tweeting that it was “so important” for him to be “on the mic[rophone] that nite [sic].”

Comedian Kevin Hart, meanwhile, told Radio 5 live on Wednesday that “this should not be thrown on [Rock’s] shoulders. Chris Rock is a person who has no problem speaking his mind.” he said. “What he chooses to do with this platform is his choice.”

Michael B Jordan and Britain’s Idris Elba are among other stars who some feel were unfairly overlooked this year in favour of Caucasian performers. Elba delivered an address at the Houses of Parliament on Monday in which he called for greater diversity in the media.

Both the UK and USA have come under increasing condemnation over the recent years for a continued lack of ethnic diversity in their recognition of talent and skills in many industries, not just entertainment. Last year the UK posted a record high number of violent race-hate crimes against women from ethnic minorities. (Read More…)