Lee says he and his wife "took a moral stance, and we're not gong to do a punk move and go back on our word"

By Adam Carlson
January 24, 2016 10:35 AM
Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock

The IMDb Studio: SPIKE LEE ON ACADEMY from IMDb on Vimeo.

Spike Lee supports the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the sweeping changes it announced last week in response to the lack of diversity among this year’s nominees – but he’s still boycotting the ceremony.

In a new interview from IMDb’s Sundance Studio from Saturday, the Do the Right Thing and Chi-Raq filmmaker said, “They had to do something, it was a fire storm of protest. And I want to thank [Academy] President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Board of Governors, for doing the right thing.”

AMPAS’ changes will overhaul its voting bloc, by moving some members to non-voting status if they have been inactive in the industry, and will dramatically ramp up its “global” efforts to double its membership of women and minorities.

But: “I’m not showing up,” Lee, 58, told IMDB. “My wife and I, we made the decision, we’re not going to change our decision. … We took a moral stance, and we’re not gong to do a punk move and go back on our word.” (Instead Lee will stay in New York to watch his beloved Knicks face off against the Miami Heat.)

“At the same time, we’re commending the Academy for putting measures that will hopefully turn this thing around,” Lee added.

(As film historian Mark Harris noted last week, AMPAS has instituted sweeping reforms in its voting body before, including once purging thousands of extras, in order, it argued, to keep its decisions and perceived “taste” relevant to the larger culture.)

And while the rapid response from the Academy has been met with skepticism and dismay from some members and elsewhere in the industry, Lee told IMDB their “naysaying” doesn’t match up with reality.

“The United States Census Bureau reported by 2043 white Americans will be a minority in this country. So I would just appeal to peoples bottom line,” Lee said. “Forget about if it’s the right thing to do.

“If you don’t address the diversity in this country, you’re going to go out of business.”

Lee wasn’t the only star who stopped by IMDb’s Sundance Studio. Other guests included Danny DeVito, Nick Jonas, and John Legend, who was seen snacking on a Wholly Guacamole from the build-your-own guacamole bar.

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