Both Lee, 58, and Pinkett Smith, 44, took to social media on Monday to announce that they will not be attending the 88th annual Academy Awards because of the #OscarSoWhite controversy.
Lee penned a thoughtful message on Instagram in which he revealed that because of the lack on diversity for the second consecutive year, he and his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, will not be attending the 2016 ceremony.
“#OscarsSoWhite… Again,” he wrote. “We cannot support it and mean no disrespect to my friends, host Chris Rock and producer Reggie Hudlin, president Isaacs and the Academy. But, how is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white?”
Lee accompanied his statement with a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., writing that it was “no coincidence” that his post falls on the national holiday celebrating the civil rights leader.
“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,’ ” he wrote. “For too many years when the Oscars nominations are revealed, my office phone rings off the hook with the media asking me my opinion about the lack of African-Americans and this year was no different.”
But despite the controversy, Lee said the “real battle” is not with the Academy, but with the “executive office of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks,” where it is decided which projects get made.
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Pinkett Smith took to Twitter on Saturday to voice her opinion on the controversy, and discuss the possibility of skipping the ceremony.
“At the Oscars…people of color are always welcomed to give out awards… even entertain,” she wrote. “But we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together?”
On Monday, the actress confirmed that she will not be watching or attending the award show this year.
She explained her reason behind the decision in a candid video she posted to Facebook.[facebook url="https://www.facebook.com/jada/videos/10153983404106320/" /]
“Begging for acknowledgement or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power and we are a dignified people and we are powerful, let’s not forget it,” she said in the clip. “So let’s let the Academy do them with all grace and love and let s do us differently.”