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?”
#OscarsSoWhite… Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. 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? And Let's Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. 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". 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. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The "Real" Battle Is. 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. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)
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.
RELATED: Oscar Nominations 2016: All Eyes Are on Alicia Vikander for Best Supporting Actress
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.
“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.”